China-WHO probe in Wuhan not extensive enough – WHO director general

China-WHO probe in Wuhan not extensive enough – WHO director general, “I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough.”

A World Health Organization team probing the new coronavirus’s origins cited problems accessing raw data, the health agency’s chief said on Tuesday, calling for further studies because the assessment, so far, has not been extensive enough.

“In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the report of a team that traveled to Wuhan, China, this year was released. “I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing.”

Although the team concluded a laboratory leak was the least likely hypothesis for the virus that causes COVID-19, the WHO said, the matter requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions.

“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” Tedros said. “Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions.”

It is “perfectly possible” COVID-19 cases were circulating in November or October 2019 around Wuhan, China, the leader of a World Health Organization mission said on Tuesday, potentially leading to the disease spreading abroad earlier than documented, so far.

The team is still working on finding the exact trace-back of the virus before Wuhan, said Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO official specialized in zoonotic diseases who led the four-week mission of international experts to China in January and February, during a virtual press conference.

Israel and 13 other countries expressed concerns on Tuesday that the World Health Organization report on the origins of COVID-19 was delayed and lacked access to complete data, according to a joint statement.

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“It is equally essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples,” according to the statement from the governments of Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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