Covid investigation: US-China tension has ‘delayed pandemic origin search’ – WHO team

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Tensions between he two superpowers have escalated throughout the pandemic with then-US President Donald Trump claiming COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.  The Telegraph, citing WHO investigators, suggests “frosty geopolitical relations and anti-China rhetoric” have delayed the process. It adds that ecologist Dr Peter Daszak “suggested efforts to study the virus’s origins have been disrupted and delayed by international squabbles, particularly between Beijing and Washington.”

Speaking at an event hosted by the policy institute Chatham House on Wednesday, Dr Daszak said: “We’ve not had access to work in China on the origins for the last 12 months, which is ironic because we could have been on the ground, working with our Chinese colleagues sooner.

“By now we may have had some really important answers as to how [Sars-Cov-2] emerged.

“The rhetoric has held that up… to some extent science is being used and abused.”

However, he offered some fresh hopes that the cause of the pandemic will be confirmed “fairly soon, within the next few years”.

He added: “I think that’s consistent with other outbreaks in the past.”

Last month, China’s explanation about how the virus emerged was questioned following a World Health Organisation (WHO) investigation.

A theory states the pathogen entered Wuhan from frozen food.

According to Vladimir Dedkov from the Pasteur Institute in St Petersburg, Russia and Fabian Leendertz, from Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, it is highly unlikely the virus originated from cold produce.

When the investigation concluded, the experts claimed samples of food had been contaminated by humans rather than vice versa.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Dedkov said: “It’s very difficult to imagine a situation where all this contaminated food came to one market in China, and not the biggest one at that, from different countries and it all started from there.

“We aren’t taking it out of consideration but we think it’s very unlikely given the facts we know today.”

His colleague also refuted claims that the virus originated from a cold source.

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Mr Leendertz said the true mystery is where the pathogen had come from before being carried on cold produce.

He added: “If you transport a virus fresh or frozen, the virus is not born from a piece of plastic.

“It’s about where the virus is from before that. Cold chain is never the source.”

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