‘Don’t rely’ on US intel: WHO team member bats away Washington’s scrutiny of Covid fact-finding mission to China


A member of the WHO team sent to China to probe the origins of Covid-19 in the country has shrugged off Washington’s demand to verify the mission’s findings, saying US intelligence on the matter should be viewed with skepticism.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expert team held a press conference on Tuesday to reveal their findings after spending four weeks in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first case of the coronavirus was reported back in December 2019. According to their investigation, there is currently no evidence to support the theory that the virus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, a claim put forward by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, among others. The team also said that it was likely that the disease was transmitted to humans from animals, although there was no direct link backing the theory that it came from bats. 

In response, the US State Department said it would not accept the team’s conclusions without first using its own intelligence to independently verify the findings. 

The criticism was waved off by Peter Daszak, a parasitologist and zoologist who was part of the WHO mission. Claiming that President Joe Biden “has to look tough on China,” the scientist cautioned in a tweet that Washington was ill-suited to double-check the WHO team’s revelations. 

“Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects,” he wrote, adding that he would be “happy” to help the White House if it wanted to review the mission’s data.

The Trump administration repeatedly claimed without evidence that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Trump himself often called the disease the “China virus” and accused Beijing of not doing enough to stop its spread. 

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WHO fact-finding mission: Animal source of Covid-19 still unidentified, Wuhan laboratory leak ‘extremely unlikely’

Although Wuhan was initially believed to be where Covid-19 originated, evidence suggests that the virus may have been in Europe months before it was detected in China. 

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