China refused to provide WHO team with raw data on early Covid cases, team member says

China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 circumstances to a World Well being Group-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, one of many team’s investigators stated, doubtlessly complicating efforts to perceive how the outbreak started.

The team had requested raw affected person data on the 174 circumstances of COVID-19 that China had recognized from the early part of the outbreak within the Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan in December 2019, in addition to different circumstances, however have been solely supplied with a abstract, stated Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious ailments skilled who’s a member of the team.

Such raw data is called “line listings”, he stated, and would sometimes be anonymised however comprise particulars equivalent to what questions have been requested of particular person sufferers, their responses and the way their responses have been analysed.

“That’s commonplace follow for an outbreak investigation,” he advised Reuters on Saturday by way of video name from Sydney, the place he’s presently present process quarantine.

He stated that gaining entry to the raw data was particularly necessary since solely half of the 174 circumstances had publicity to the Huanan market, the now-shuttered wholesale seafood centre in Wuhan the place the virus was initially detected.”That’s why we’ve endured to ask for that,” he stated.

“Why that doesn’t occur, I couldn’t remark. Whether or not it’s political or time or it’s tough … However whether or not there are every other
explanation why the data isn’t accessible, I don’t know. One would solely speculate.”

Whereas the Chinese language authorities supplied a whole lot of materials, he stated the problem of entry to the raw affected person data could be talked about within the team’s ultimate report. “The WHO folks actually felt that they’d obtained a lot far more data than they’d ever obtained within the earlier 12 months. In order that in itself is an advance.”

A abstract of the team’s findings might be launched as early as subsequent week, the WHO stated on Friday.

The WHO-led probe had been stricken by delay, concern over entry and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the preliminary outbreak and criticised the phrases of the go to, underneath which Chinese language specialists performed the primary part of analysis.

The team, which arrived in China in January and spent 4 weeks trying into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, was restricted to visits organised by their Chinese language hosts and prevented from contact with neighborhood members, due to well being restrictions.The primary two weeks have been spent in lodge quarantine.

China’s refusal to hand over raw data on the early COVID-19 circumstances was reported earlier by the Wall Road Journal on Friday. The WHO didn’t reply to a request from Reuters for remark.

The Chinese language overseas ministry didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark however Beijing has beforehand defended its transparency in dealing with the outbreak and its cooperation with the WHO mission.


Dwyer stated the work inside the WHO team was harmonious however that there have been “arguments” at instances with their Chinese language counterparts over the interpretation and significance of the data, which he described as “pure” in such probes.

“We may be having a speak about chilly chain they usually may be extra agency about what the data reveals than what we’d have been, however that’s pure. Whether or not there’s political stress to have completely different opinions, I don’t know. There might be, however it’s exhausting to know.”

Chilly chain refers to the transport and commerce of frozen meals. Beijing has sought to solid doubt on the notion that the coronavirus originated in China, pointing to imported frozen meals as a conduit.

On Tuesday, Peter Ben Embarek, who led the WHO delegation, advised a information convention that transmission of the virus by way of frozen meals is a chance, however pointed to market distributors promoting frozen animal merchandise together with farmed wild animals as a possible pathway that warrants additional examine.

Embarek additionally stated that the team was not trying additional into the speculation that the virus escaped from a lab, which it thought-about extremely unlikely. The earlier U.S. administration of President Donald Trump had stated it suspected the virus might have escaped from a Wuhan lab, which Beijing strongly denies. “It was an unanimous feeling,” Dwyer stated. “It wasn’t a political sop by any means.”

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