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The 2-page inside journey report is a abstract of the WHO programme supervisor and mission chief Peter Ben Embarek’s journey to China between 10 July and three August 2020, which was described as an advance WHO mission to review the Covid-19 virus and “evaluate work accomplished up to now on the origin of the virus”.

In its abstract, the journey report mentioned the mission began with a two-week quarantine adopted by 10 days of face-to-face conferences with related ministries, together with the nationwide well being fee, the state administration for market regulation, the ministry of agriculture and rural affairs, and different companies together with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“Following intensive discussions with and presentation from Chinese language counterparts, it seems that little had been accomplished when it comes to epidemiological investigations round Wuhan since January 2020. The information introduced orally gave a couple of extra particulars than what was introduced on the emergency committee conferences in January 2020. No PowerPoint shows have been made and no paperwork have been shared,” the report mentioned.

A WHO spokesperson declined to touch upon “inside paperwork”. The Chinese language embassy in Washington didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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When a reporter from Science journal requested WHO officers in regards to the July-August 2020 mission at a 21 August press convention, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious illness skilled and technical lead for the WHO on Covid-19, mentioned the workforce had just lately returned from China and had been there to “be taught” from Chinese language counterparts in regards to the work that “has been ongoing”.

Dr Michael Ryan, govt director of the WHO’s well being emergencies programme, then added: “It’s essential that the mission goes forward, however there are additionally quite a few preliminary research that have to be carried out as nicely, and our colleagues in China have mentioned these in depth with the advance workforce and we hope that these research can start as quickly as potential.”

Additional questions on China’s cooperation in learning the origins of the virus emerged following a more moderen journey – simply final month – to China to review the origins of the virus. Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious illness skilled who was a part of the investigation workforce, just lately advised reporters that the WHO had requested uncooked affected person information from Chinese language counterparts throughout its January 2021 mission however was solely given a abstract.

Dwyer advised Reuters that sharing anonymised uncooked information was customary follow for an outbreak investigation. He mentioned uncooked information was notably essential in efforts to know Covid-19 as solely half of 174 preliminary circumstances had publicity to the now shuttered market the place the virus was first detected.

“That’s why we’ve continued to ask for that,” Dwyer mentioned. “Why that doesn’t occur, I couldn’t remark.”


In a press release to the Guardian, the WHO mentioned it had harassed the necessity to perceive the origin of the virus “from the very starting” and had mentioned the necessity to examine and share info with China all through 2020.

“In July 2020, [the] WHO was invited by the Chinese language authorities to ship a preliminary workforce to China to organize for the work of the workforce of worldwide scientists. The joint workforce of Chinese language and worldwide scientists started digital conferences within the autumn of 2020.”

The WHO spokesperson added: “They visited Wuhan in January-February 2021. Within the early days of an outbreak, absolutely the precedence is to save lots of lives, perceive the illness and suppress the transmission. However we additionally consider that the work to know the origin of any outbreak ought to begin early, when sure clues could be discovered extra simply.”

In future, the spokesperson mentioned, conducting research into the origins of a illness ought to occur in parallel with urgently suppressing a virus and saving lives.