China had done “little” to try and find out what caused COVID-19, even eight months into the deadly global pandemic, according to a leaked World Health Organization document.
A WHO team traveled to China last summer to “review work done so far on the origin of the virus” and help prep for the recent fact-finding mission by a team of international scientists, The Guardian said.
But the almost three-week trip was stymied by China refusing to hand over any documentation — and seemingly having done very little to study the origins of the contagion that first emerged in Wuhan, a two-page internal WHO memo seen by the UK paper said.
“Following extensive discussions with and presentation from Chinese counterparts, it appears that little had been done in terms of epidemiological investigations around Wuhan since January 2020,” the Aug. 10 memo said, according to The Guardian.
Experts from the WHO-China joint team Liang Wannian, Peter Ben Embarek and Marion Koopmans arrive for the WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference on Feb. 9, 2021 in Wuhan.Zhang Chang/China News Service via Getty Images
“No PowerPoint presentations were made and no documents were shared,” the team reportedly noted.
The trip, between July 10 and Aug. 3, had included meetings with relevant ministries, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the controversial lab at the heart of conspiracies about the contagion’s unknown origins.
Investigative team members of the World Health Organization visit Huanan seafood market on Jan. 31, 2021 in Wuhan, China. Getty Images
Those questions were still not fully cleared up by the WHO’s fact-finding mission earlier this month — and US officials are still accusing China of withholding crucial data from the start of the pandemic.
WHO spokesperson declined to comment on “internal documents.” However, a spokesman told The Guardian that the health agency had stressed to China the need to understand the origin of the virus “from the very beginning” and asked to share information throughout 2020.
Cars transporting members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team, investigating the origins of COVID-19 on Jan. 31, 2021.HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images
“We also believe that the work to understand the origin of any outbreak should start early, when certain clues can be found more easily,” a spokesman told the UK paper.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment, The Guardian said.