WHO mission member says ‘don’t rely’ on US coronavirus intelligence

PTI, Feb 10, 2021, 4:44 PM IST

Image for representation

Wuhan: US intelligence on the supposed origin of the coronavirus pandemic was not reliable, a member of the special WHO mission to China said Wednesday after Washington cast doubt on the transparency of the probe.

The World Health Organization mission ended Tuesday without finding the source of the virus, but members had to walk a diplomatic tightrope during their stay, with the US urging a “robust” probe and China warning against politicising the issue.

Information dribbled out via their personal Twitter accounts during the mission, but more details and opinions emerged as they prepared to leave the country.

Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team, waded directly into the murky geopolitics which covers the pandemic origin story.

President Joe Biden “has to look tough on China”, he said in a tweet, adding: “Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects.”

Daszak also tweeted that they worked “flat out under the most politically charged environment possible”.

His comments were linked to an article referencing US state department comments which cast doubt over the transparency of China’s co-operation with the WHO mission.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the White House “clearly support this investigation”, but shared criticism that China concealed information.

Asked if China had fully cooperated with the WHO team, Price told reporters: “I think the jury’s still out.”

In turn, Beijing emphasised Wednesday that the China probe is just “one part” of an investigation into the origins.

“We hope that the US, like China, will adopt an open and transparent attitude and invite WHO experts to carry out research and studies in the US,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

Daszak heads US-based non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, which monitors epidemic outbreaks and has partnered for more than a decade with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on joint research of coronaviruses.

He has been one of the most vocal proponents of a natural origin, and in comments to AFP last year dismissed the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan lab as a politically motivated “conspiracy theory” pushed by Trump.

Last year, the Trump administration abruptly terminated a US government grant supporting the group’s joint research with the Wuhan facility, a move the scientific community criticized as political.

Despite failing to find the virus origins a year after the pandemic began, the team of foreign experts in China did agree it likely jumped from bats to an unknown animal species before transmitting to humans.

They also concluded the theory of lab experiment gone wrong was “extremely unlikely,” while introducing new avenues of inquiry — chiming with China’s view that it may have originated overseas or have been spread by frozen foods.

Beijing has repeatedly floated the theory that the virus was brought to China through packaging on so-called cold-chain products such as frozen seafood, linking these to various domestic outbreaks in the past few months.

While WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan has previously said “there is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission”, the WHO mission members on Tuesday appeared to give weight to China’s theory that it could be carried on cold-chain products.

There had also been widespread concerns about the scientists’ access to data a year on from the outbreak, and amid accusations that Beijing downplayed the initial severity of the outbreak.

Several WHO team members insisted that they were granted full access to the sites and individuals they requested to visit.

But Danish epidemiologist and team member Thea Kolsen Fischer appeared to break ranks, revealing after the briefing that they were not given raw data and instead relied on analyses by Chinese scientists.

“If you come as an outsider and look at the individual, identifiable data, you would most likely — in most scenarios — get access to aggregated data,” she said Tuesday after the briefing, referring to the common practice in most countries.

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

Neeraj Chopra, men’s 4x400m relay team win gold medals; Indian athletes continue medal run

Delhi excise policy: ED arrests AAP MP Sanjay Singh following searches

ED summons Ranbir Kapoor in Mahadev betting app case

Karnataka: Cook arrested for sexually assaulting minor boys and recording it on phone

Sikkim flash flood: NDRF deploys 3 teams, rescues 7

Govt hikes LPG subsidy for Ujjwala beneficiaries to Rs 300 per cylinder

Former BMTC senior official arrested for alleged fraud in awarding contracts

Related Articles More

Bus plummeted 15 m from elevated road in Venice, killing 21 people in fiery crash

3 scientists win Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on tiny quantum dots

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rallies his Conservatives by saying he’s ready to take tough decisions

Suspect in Bangkok mall shooting that killed 2 used a modified mock gun, police say

Flights cancelled and schools closed as Taiwan braces for Typhoon Koinu


Rahul Gandhi Visits Golden Temple

10 Rupees Hotel at Udupi

8th Continent found

Kudukulli Mahalingeshwara Temple

Shivanna apologized to actor Siddharth on behalf of the Kannada film industry

Latest Additions

Sanjay Singh’s arrest shows BJP’s frustration as it is losing to INDIA bloc: AAP

Neeraj Chopra, men’s 4x400m relay team win gold medals; Indian athletes continue medal run

‘Little surprise for Ma’: Rahul Gandhi introduces new “family member” ‘Noorie’

Bengaluru has nearly 2.8 lakh stray dogs, finds a survey by city civic body

Delhi excise policy: ED arrests AAP MP Sanjay Singh following searches

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.