China refused to give investigators from the World Health Organization key data on early coronavirus cases.
The raw, personalized data on the early cases could have helped investigators find out how and when the virus began to spread in China, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper reported that Chinese authorities rejected requests to provide such data on 174 cases of COVID-19 that they identified from the early phase of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan.
The Chinese officials would only provide their own summaries and analysis of data on the cases, said WHO team members. However, the WHO investigators weren’t allowed to personally see the raw underlying data.
"They showed us a couple of examples, but that’s not the same as doing all of them, which is standard epidemiological investigation,” said Dominic Dwyer, a microbiologist on the WHO team. “So then, you know, the interpretation of that data becomes more limited from our point of view, although the other side might see it as being quite good.”
WHO has concluded that it is extremely unlikely the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab with an extensive collection of virus samples. Former President Donald Trump and officials in his administration were among those who floated that possibility.
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