In a statement, the United States and 13 other countries express skepticism about the WHO report on the origin of the coranavirus that has now been published.
Denmark and Norway are among the signatories, but not Sweden.
The countries state that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mission in China earlier this year was “remarkably delayed and lacked access to complete original data and samples”.
It was in mid-January that the eyes of the world turned again on Wuhan in China when WHO experts after many ifs and buts were let into the country to try to trace the origins of covid-19. Their report from the visit, which has been made in collaboration with Chinese researchers, has been in demand ever since they left the country, but was delayed on several occasions.
The report: The virus did not start in a lab
The report was published on Tuesday, but the content had been leaked in several media as early as Monday.
“It is essential that independent experts have full access to all relevant information in the human, animal and environmental fields, as well as to the research initially carried out and the staff involved in the early stages of the outbreak,” the signatories wrote in the statement without explicitly pointing out China in its criticism.
The report states that the coronavirus probably spread from bats to humans via another animal. And the theory that the virus had leaked from a laboratory is completely dismissed.
The WHO itself is not satisfied with the conditions given to carry out its mission in Wuhan.
“Future studies need access to more accurate and comprehensive data,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Peter Ben Embarek, who led the study, also attended Tuesday’s press conference and said that they are still working to find the source of the virus and that he judged that there may have been cases of covid-19 already in October or November 2019 in Wuhan.
WHO: The experts felt pressured
– There were areas where we had difficulty obtaining proper source information from China. But we never expected to find the definitive answer to what caused the virus, he said.
Embarek also said that the experts felt “politically pressured”, from China but also from the outside world, to arrive at a satisfactory result. However, there was no pressure to change the report, which was a concern when the study began.
The 14 countries that express skepticism about the report in a statement are the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.