Caixin
Mar 31, 2021 07:56 PM
CHINA

China Rejects Allegation It Kept Information From WHO Covid-19 Investigators

What’s new: The Chinese side of the WHO-China joint expert team has rejected the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general’s claim that China withheld raw data from the international experts while they investigated the origins of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan early this year.

Liang Wannian, team leader of the Chinese side of the joint expert panel, said at a press conference Wednesday that both Chinese and international researchers had access to the same data throughout the investigation.

“There was no difference between the information obtained by the Chinese experts and that obtained by the foreign experts as the two sides conducted their research and analysis together,” said Liang, a public health professor at Tsinghua University.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday that “In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data.”

“I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing,” he added.

Liang told state media that the Chinese side showed the raw data to the WHO experts in sequence, including the early case database and the epidemiological survey forms used in the field. He added that the international experts were not allowed to copy or take data of specific cases out of the country to protect patient privacy as required by Chinese law.

What’s more: During the press conference on Wednesday, Liang also said that although some genome sequences from bats and pangolins showed high similarity to the Covid-19 virus, neither bats nor pangolins were identified as direct ancestors of the current virus carrier species.

Animals such as bats, pangolins, weasels and felines all have the potential to be natural hosts of the virus, he said.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong (xintongwang@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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