Chinese authorities refused to share raw data on early cases of COVID-19 with a World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the scientists on the team told The Wall Street Journal.
According to The Journal, government authorities provided summaries of the cases to the WHO team, but withheld raw data that could provide clues as to how the virus spread early on in the pandemic.
“They showed us a couple of examples, but that’s not the same as doing all of them, which is standard epidemiological investigation,” Dominic Dwyer, an Australian microbiologist on the WHO team, said.
“So then, you know, the interpretation of that data becomes more limited from our point of view, although the other side might see it as being quite good,” Dwyer said.
A team of 10 international scientists traveled to China in January to investigate the origins of the virus, including the theory that a virology lab in Wuhan was responsible for the outbreak.
Chinese officials have rejected that theory and asserted, without providing evidence, that the virus could have been brought to China from overseas.
WHO officials gave mixed messages this week about the team’s findings.
On Tuesday, Dr. Peter Embarek said that it was “extremely unlikely” that an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was responsible for the first infection in humans.
“A laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population and therefore is not a hypothesis that would suggest future studies into our future work into understanding the origin of the virus,” he said at a news conference.
Tedros Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, walked back Embarek’s statement on Thursday, saying that “all hypotheses” about the origins of the virus “remain open and require further study.”
The WHO report is expected to be released in coming days, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The WHO mission was a charade. It has no credibility. Its members were willing — and, in at least one case, eager — participants in disinformation,” Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard H. Ebright told the DCNF.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the Biden administration will not draw any conclusions on the WHO investigation until the full report is released.
The sole American member of the WHO team, Dr. Peter Daszak, said Tuesday he was “disappointed” in Price’s comments.
He tweeted that U.S. intelligence on the origins of the coronavirus shouldn’t be trusted and that the White House should blindly trust the team’s conclusion before reviewing their report.
Well now this👇. @JoeBiden has to look tough on China. Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects. Happy to help WH w/ their quest to verify, but don’t forget it’s “TRUST” then “VERIFY”! https://t.co/ukaNAkDfEG
— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) February 10, 2021
Daszak’s inclusion on the WHO panel has come under fire. He worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its top coronavirus researcher Shi Zhengli prior to the outbreak.
Daszak is president of the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance, which funneled nearly $600,000 from a U.S. taxpayer-funded grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology between 2014 and 2019 as part of a research project studying coronaviruses in Chinese bats.
Shi, known as the “bat lady” in China, told the Scientific American in March that she lost sleep worrying that the virus could have leaked from her lab in Wuhan after she first learned of the outbreak in December 2019.
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