White House ‘deeply concerned’ by WHO’s Covid report due to fears of ‘Chinese interference’ as it demands data release

2 months ago 22

JOE Biden’s administration has said it has “deep concerns” that the Chinese government may have interfered in the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement Saturday: “We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the Covid-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.

Jake Sullivan said there were 'deep concerns' over the findings of the WHO report

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Jake Sullivan said there were 'deep concerns' over the findings of the WHO reportCredit: Rex Features

Peter Daszak, a US member of the WHO team, had previously hit out at the Biden administration

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Peter Daszak, a US member of the WHO team, had previously hit out at the Biden administrationCredit: EPA

“It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government,” he said.

“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak.”

The comments from the president’s top national security official are the latest sign the White House remains distrustful of Beijing over its relationship with WHO, even after Biden moved to re-join the organization after the previous president Donald Trump walked away from it last year.

“Re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards”, Sullivan said. “And at this critical moment, protecting the WHO’s credibility is a paramount priority.”

Chinese officials have come under close scrutiny from the US and elsewhere over its censorship of vital information in the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The wet markets in Wuhan could have been the origin of the coronavirus pandemic

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The wet markets in Wuhan could have been the origin of the coronavirus pandemicCredit: The Mega Agency

Beijing has denied any responsibility for the Covid outbreak

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Beijing has denied any responsibility for the Covid outbreakCredit: 2013 Getty Images

This was NOT my experience on @WHO mission. As lead of animal/environment working group I found trust & openness w/ my China counterparts. We DID get access to critical new data throughout. We DID increase our understanding of likely spillover pathways. https://t.co/gwGnm9pnGj

— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) February 13, 2021

Beijing has lashed out at suggestions it has any responsibility for the pandemic which has so far killed nearly 2.4million people.

A team of WHO scientists said last Tuesday it had completed it highly anticipated investigation into the origins of the deadly virus in Wuhan.

The Biden administration said it would not make a judgement on the findings until they had been verified by its own intelligence and conferring with its allies.

WHO has been accused of acting under the influence of the Chinese government.

The WHO team has said the virus had not leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab, a line previously pushed by Trump but strongly denied by Beijing.

Chinese state media claimed their government had been vindicated.

After Biden’s administration said it wanted to review the data independently before commenting on the report, Peter Daszak, the only US member of the WHO team, took to Twitter to criticize the administration for doubting the organization’s word.

He also urged Biden to not “rely too much” on America’s own intelligence.

Daszak though has come under fire himself over his professional ties with the Wuhan lab, and had is funding from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) suspended last year as a result.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Chinese authorities had refused to give WHO investigators “raw, personalised data” on early Covid-19 cases.

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The New York Times also reported that Chinese officials had urged the WHO team to “embrace the government’s narrative about the source of the virus”, citing several members of the team.

Daszak tweeted on Saturday, before Sullivan’s statement, that he had “found trust & openness w/ my China counterparts.”

“We DID get access to critical new data throughout,” he wrote.

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