BEIJING – Chinese authorities have refused to provide World Health Organization researchers with raw, personalized data on early cases of Covid-19 that could help them determine how and when the coronavirus began to spread in China, according to researchers from WHO described heated exchanges about the foul. of detail.
Chinese authorities rejected requests to provide such data on 174 Covid-19 cases they have identified since the initial phase of the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. The researchers are part of a WHO team that this week completed. a month-long mission to China to determine the origins of the pandemic.
Chinese officials and scientists provided their own extensive summaries and data analyzes on the cases, the WHO team members said. They also provided aggregated data and analysis on retrospective searches through medical records in the months leading up to the identification of the Wuhan outbreak, and said they had found no evidence of the virus.
But the WHO team was not allowed to see the underlying raw data in those retrospective studies, which could allow them to conduct their own analysis on how early and how extensive the virus began to spread in China, team members said. . Member states typically provide such data, anonymized, but disaggregated so investigators can see all other relevant details of each case, as part of the WHO investigations, team members said.
“They showed us a couple of examples, but that’s not the same as doing all of them, which is standard epidemiological research,” said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian microbiologist on the WHO team. “So, you know, the interpretation of that data becomes more limited from our point of view, although the other party might see it as pretty good.”