WHO investigators to scrap interim report on probe of COVID-19 origins - report

Reuters

Posted at Mar 05 2021 02:06 PM

Experts from China and the World Health Organization (WHO) joint team wearing face masks visit Wuhan Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, in Hubei province, China, Feb. 23, 2020. China Daily/Reuters/File

A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new probe, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In Geneva, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in an email reply: "The full report is expected in coming weeks."

No further information was immediately available about the reasons for the delay in publishing the findings of the WHO-led mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were detected in late 2019.

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China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to a WHO-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, Dominic Dwyer, one of the team's investigators said last month, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began.

The probe had been plagued by delays, concern over access, and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticized the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research. 

The team, which arrived in China in January and spent 4 weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak, was limited to visits organized by their Chinese hosts and prevented from contact with community members, due to health restrictions. 

The first two weeks were spent in hotel quarantine.

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