WUHAN, China – More than a dozen foreign scientists led by the World Health Organization met with their Chinese counterparts last month to vote on the question: How did the Covid-19 pandemic start?
The hand-raising came after a four-week joint study in the city where the first cases were identified, a mission many hoped would provide some clarity to a world craving answers.
For a time, it seemed. The voting results captured the headlines: the virus likely jumped to humans from an animal; more research is needed on whether it spreads in frozen foods; a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely”.
However, a month later, as the WHO-led team finalizes its full report on the Wuhan mission, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal has uncovered new details about the team’s formation and limitations that reveal how little power it had to conduct a thorough and impartial review. “And question the clarity their findings seemed to provide.”
China resisted international pressure for an investigation that it saw as an attempt to blame, delaying the investigation for months, securing veto rights over participants and insisting that its scope extends to other countries as well, the Journal found.