Politics

China refuses to give WHO raw data on early Covid-19 cases

Chinese scientists refused to share raw data that might bring the world closer to understanding the coronavirus pandemic’s origins, independent investigators for the W.H.O. said on Friday, Report informs, citing The Wall Street Journal.

The investigators, who recently returned from a fact-finding trip to the Chinese city of Wuhan, said disagreements over patient records and other issues were so tense that they sometimes erupted into shouts among the typically mild-mannered scientists on both sides.

China’s continued resistance to revealing information about the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the scientists say, makes it difficult for them to uncover critical clues that could help stop future outbreaks of such dangerous diseases.

“If you are data-focused, and if you are a professional,” said Thea Kølsen Fischer, a Danish epidemiologist on the team, then obtaining data is “like for a clinical doctor looking at the patient and seeing them by your own eyes.”

For 27 days in January and February, the team of 14 experts for the World Health Organization led the mission to trace the pandemic’s origins. Several say their Chinese counterparts were frustrated by the team’s persistent questioning and demands for data.

According to several members of the team, Chinese officials urged the W.H.O. team to embrace the government’s narrative about the source of the virus, including the unproven notion that it might have spread to China from abroad. The W.H.O. scientists responded that they would refrain from making judgments without data.

“It was my take on the entire mission that it was highly geopolitical,” Dr. Fischer said. “Everybody knows how much pressure there is on China to be open to an investigation and also how much blame there might be associated with this.”

In the end, the W.H.O. experts sought compromise, praising the Chinese government’s transparency but pushing for more research about the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019.

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