Britain reiterates US 'concerns' and 'criticism' over WHO COVID-19 mission to China

WION Web Team
London, United Kingdom Published: Feb 14, 2021, 03:35 PM(IST)

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (file photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The WHO probe team suggested the coronavirus might have originated with frozen seafood products, not from a Chinese lab as some, including former US President Donald Trump have claimed

The United Kingdom on Sunday said that it shared concerns about the level of access given to a World Health Organisation COVID-19 fact-finding mission to China, echoing criticism from the United States.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said, "We do share concerns that they get full cooperation and they get the answers they need, and so we'll be pushing for it to have full access, get all the data it needs."

The WHO probe team suggested the coronavirus might have originated with frozen seafood products, not from a Chinese lab as some, including former US President Donald Trump have claimed.

Also read: US cites 'deep concerns' about WHO Covid report, seeks more information from China

The US, to this end, said it wants Beijing to "make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak." 

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday "deep respect" for the WHO, which the US is rejoining after the Trump administration quit it to protest its virus response -- but said protecting its credibility is "a paramount priority."

Beijing has repeatedly floated the theory that the virus was instead brought to China through the packaging on products such as frozen seafood, a theory the WHO team did not rule out.

But, Sullivan added, "re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards. And at this critical moment, protecting the WHO's credibility is a paramount priority."

Earlier in the day, one of the team's investigators complicated efforts to understand how the outbreak began by claiming China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the team.

China's refusal to hand over raw data on the early COVID-19 cases was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on Friday.

Also read | China refused WHO raw COVID-19 data on early cases: Report 

A summary of the team's findings could be released as early as next week, the WHO said on Friday.

The probe had been plagued by delay, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.

The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak, was limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and prevented from contact with community members, due to health restrictions. The first two weeks were spent in hotel quarantine.

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