A World Health Organization team probing the new coronavirus’s origins cited problems accessing raw data, the health agency’s chief said on Tuesday,as he called for further studies because the assessment, so far, has not been extensive enough.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comments to the agency’s member states as a WHO-led team that spent four weeks in and around Wuhan, China, in January and February released its final report to the public.
China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to a World Health Organization-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, one of the team’s investigators has already said, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began.
“In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data,” Tedros said. “I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing.”
It is “perfectly possible” COVID-19 cases were circulating in November or October 2019 around Wuhan, China, the team’s leader, Peter Ben Embarek, said at a press briefing on Tuesday, potentially leading to the disease spreading abroad earlier than documented, so far. read more
The conclusions that the virus origins remains incomplete likely means that tensions over how the pandemic started — and whether China has helped or hinder efforts to find out, as the United States has alleged — will continue.
Although the team concluded a leak from a Wuhan-area laboratory was the least likely hypothesis for the virus that causes COVID-19, Tedros said, the matter requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions back to China.
“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” Tedros said. “Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions.”
March 30, 2021
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