International representatives from the United Nations’ World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan, China today to investigate the origins of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic (https://apnews.com/article/who-team-arrives-wuhan-virus-origins-db3e9adcbfa801d3e8274c1976ea5fcd). This group was finally approved after months of petitioning to Chinese President Xi Jinping. While many site Wuhan as the source of the virus that has killed almost 2 million people globally, Chinese government officials have argued that the virus may have been brought in with imports from other countries.
Fifteen scientists were sent from various countries including the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam. Two of the scientists were held back in Singapore after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies. They will be working alongside Chinese scientists, but it is not known if they will be able to actually gather evidence.
Both the Trump Administration, and later the Australian government demanded an international investigation, but they were initially met with pushback and misleading information. This team is finally able to make headway over a year since the outbreak was originally reported. While this is a step in the right direction, it’s doubtful that the team will be able to complete their objective in such a short time.
Investigators are also worried about potential coverups by the Chinese government. The WHO has already had to deal with misleading or withheld information and bureaucratic delays among other Chinese tactics to shift the focus and blame onto other countries. One focus during this trip could be Wuhan Institute of Virology, however there won’t be an investigation as to whether the lab could have released the virus (accidentally or otherwise). Will this be a productive trip, or will this serve as another opportunity for the Chinese government to divert attention and continue its cover up?
Image Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan