When the World Health Organization was finally allowed into the Chinese city of Wuhan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese scientists refused to hand over important raw data that would help the investigation.
The New York Times reported that the WHO investigators “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.”
As The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross pointed out, the WHO officials did not mention China’s refusal to turn over the data during the press conferences they held last week.
The lack of cooperation from China “makes it difficult” for the WHO scientists “to uncover important clues that could help stop future outbreaks of such dangerous diseases,” the Times reported.
Thea Kølsen Fischer, an epidemiologist and professor from Denmark who was one of the scientists who went to China, told the Times that obtaining raw data was “like for a clinical doctor looking at the patient and seeing them by your own eyes.”
Fischer and 13 other WHO experts spent 27 days in China earlier this year in an attempt to investigate the origins of the pandemic that has killed 2.38 million people around the world. Some of the experts who were on the trip told the Times that it was clear Chinese scientists did not take kindly to the WHO team’s constant questions and requests for raw data. As the Times reported, “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, according to several members of the team.”
Fischer called the trip “highly geopolitical,” adding that, “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.”
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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.
It remains unclear if the compromise will work. Chinese officials told the team that they did not have enough time to compile detailed patient data and only provided summaries. The W.H.O. scientists said they were continuing to press their counterparts in China for the raw data and other information.
The team members considered the trip, which ended this week, as a win mostly because they feel there is enough good will that talks and studies will continue. But they acknowledged there is too little information so far to answer critical questions.
For those wondering exactly how the coronavirus came into existence and was able to spread so rapidly throughout the world, the trip offered no explanation. In America, despite widespread lockdowns shuttering small businesses and devastating mental health, nearly 500,000 people have died with COVID-19 and more than 27 million have been infected.
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