UK says it shares US concerns over WHO COVID-19 mission to China

Dominic Raab on a visit in Cyprus, 4 February 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday (14 February) he shared concerns about the level of access given to a World Health Organization COVID-19 fact-finding mission to China, echoing criticism from the United States.

The WHO team arrived in Wuhan on 14 January and after two weeks of quarantine, visited key sites including the Huanan seafood market, the location of the first known cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been involved in coronavirus research. It made a press conference on 9 February.

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The White House on Saturday called on China to make available data from the earliest days of the novel coronavirus outbreak, saying it had “deep concerns” about the way the findings of the WHO’s COVID-19 report were communicated.

Asked about the US reaction, Raab told the BBC: “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 to be able to answer the questions that I think most people want to hear answered around the outbreak.”

In a separate BBC interview, a member of the WHO’s delegation to China said that, while Chinese authorities had not given them all raw data, they had seen a lot of information and discussed analysis of the first cases.

“It would be unusual for them to hand over the raw data, but we looked at a great deal of information in detail in discussion with the Chinese counterparts,” said John Watson, an epidemiologist who travelled to China as part of the WHO team.

On Saturday, Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert, who is also a member of the team, said China had refused access to all the data requested.


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