Six months after the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) trumpeted a “full, thorough and transparent probe” into the origins of the coronavirus, China on Monday pledged cooperation with the official investigation team – when it finally gains entry to the country.
Local Chinese researchers are carrying out epidemiological studies into early cases and conditions at a seafood market in the city of Wuhan where the virus was first identified last November.
The W.H.O.’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response was formed in May to carry out phase 2 studies after initial resistance from China which claimed no study could begin “until the virus was beaten,” as Breitbart News reported.
Reuters reports the United States has since questioned the delay and sought a timeline of the panel’s visit, diplomats said, addressing concerns the inquiry is “too little, too late, and concessions to Beijing are undermining it.”
“We fully expect that we will have a team on the ground. We need to be able to have the international team join our Chinese colleagues and go to the ground and look at the results and outcomes of those phase 1 studies and verify these data on the ground,” W.H.O. emergency expert Mike Ryan reassured the media during a briefing from his Geneva offices.
This would help to ensure “that the international community can be reassured of the quality of the science”, he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump led early criticism of China’s bungled handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while singling out the close alliance between the W.H.O. and China as an impediment to the global understanding of the viral threat:C-SPAN
Ryan agreed the Wuhan market is “likely to have been a point of amplification” of virus transmission, but whether that was by human, animal or environmental spread is not yet known, he said.
“We will pursue those investigations over the next couple of months in phase 1 and hopefully move on to phase 2,” Ryan said.