01/19/2021, 14.44
CHINA - USA
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Beijing blocking WHO investigators' Covid inquiry

US experts want to interview Wuhan medical staff and access all scientific data. 300 studies related to the virology institute suspected of being the epicentre of the pandemic have disappeared from the web. Independent group: Unjustified delays by WHO and China.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China is hindering the international investigation into the origins of the pandemic. This was reported yesterday by Garrett Grigsby, head of the US delegation in the investigative team of the World Health Organization.

Grigsby is asking the Chinese government to allow WHO experts to interview patients infected with Covid-19, nurses and laboratory technicians in Wuhan. The health team has been in the capital of Hubei since January 14 - where the coronavirus first appeared - to conduct the investigation.

The mission was decided in May by the WHO Assembly. China has boycotted it for months, especially regarding the formation of the team of experts. Team members are now in quarantine; at the moment they can only have a conference call with their Chinese colleagues, who conducted the first part of the research.

Grigsby demanded that Beijing share all scientific data on human, animal and environmental samples taken from the Wuhan market, where the disease is supposed to have spread. Washington has criticized the terms of the investigation and is calling for more transparency from the Chinese.

Many analysts doubt that Chinese government will fully cooperate with WHO experts. British media reports, for example, that Beijing has deleted 300 studies related to the activities carried out in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, suspected of being the epicenter of the pandemic, from the web.

Australian investigators made the same requests as their American colleagues: in response, the Chinese health authorities urged their counterparts not to "politicize" the mission.

WHO Emergency Unit chief, Mike Ryan, has already stated that it will be difficult to obtain concrete results from the investigation.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020, the WHO has often been accused of covering up for China, accused by many of having lied about the spread of the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump termed Tedros a "puppet" in the hands of Beijing.

He was accused of collusion with the Chinese authorities in lying and delaying the declaration on human-to-human transmissibility of the virus, on the declaration of world emergency, accepting that his experts did not go to Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic.

A group of independent observers set up by the WHO to assess the management of the pandemic has addressed the same criticism at the organization - and China.

Led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, yesterday the team denounced the actions of Tedros and Beijing. They conclude that Chinese should have taken public health measures already in January last year to contain the pandemic; the WHO should instead have declared an international emergency before January 30th. In light of the delays and shortcomings encountered, the team of observers calls for a reform of the organization.

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