More than a year after that A new coronavirus first appeared in ChinaA team of experts from the World Health Organization finally arrived in downtown Wuhan on Thursday to look for the source, Chinese state media reported.
Research by the team of 10 scientists is a crucial step in understanding how the virus jumped from animals to humans so that another pandemic can be avoided. Getting answers will most likely be difficult.
The Chinese government, known to have no outside control, has repeatedly obstructed the team’s arrival and investigation. Even in the best of circumstances, a full exam can take months, if not longer. The team must also steer China’s attempts to politicize the investigation.
Here’s what you should know about the exam.
China set hurdles and urged control.
Visa delays. Quarantine rules. Political stone wall.
Seemingly concerned to re-draw attention to the country’s early mistakes in dealing with the pandemic, Chinese officials have used various tactics over the past year the W.H.O. Detection.
After China defied the demands of other nations to allow independent researchers on its soil to investigate the pathogen’s origin, China eventually hired two W.H.O. Experts | Visit in July lay the foundations. Then the team was immediately quarantined for 14 days and its members forced to do some of their detective work remotely.
They were not allowed to visit Wuhan, where the virus first appeared.
China delayed approval of a full team of experts for a visit for months, frustrating health department executives. When the visit appeared to be completed earlier this month, it fell apart at the last minute when Beijing failed to provide visas for visitors, according to the health department. Dr. World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a rare reprimand against Beijing at a press conference, saying he was “very disappointed” with the delays.
The Chinese government has requested that Chinese scientists oversee key parts of the investigation. It has restricted the global health authority’s access to critical research and data. The full W.H.O. The team must be quarantined in Wuhan for two weeks before they can start sleeping.
Critics say Beijing’s desire for control means that the investigation will most likely be more political than scientific.
“They want this investigation to be thorough, non-politicizable, independent and transparent,” said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow on global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But we have to be realistic.”
Despite the problems, the W.H.O. says it intends to conduct a rigorous and transparent study.
“WHO. Has been committed to investigating the origins of the virus from the beginning,” said Tarik Jašarević, a spokesman for the agency, in a statement. “We call on all countries to support these efforts through openness and transparency.”
Tracking down the virus will be a tedious task.
The team, which has arrived in Wuhan according to official broadcaster CGTN, will face a city that has changed radically since the virus first appeared in late 2019. The city, which was locked down on January 23 last year and became the symbol of the virus’s devastation, was halted by Chinese officials a year later A success story in overcoming the virus – a city reborn.
The WHO. Experts have decades of experience researching viruses, animal health and disease control. They come from the UK, Germany, Japan, Russia, the US and other countries. Peter DaszakA British disease ecologist and Hung Nguyen, a Vietnamese scientist who studies zoonotic diseases, are among the team members.
However, finding the source of the virus, which has killed nearly two million people worldwide and infected more than 92 million as of Thursday, will be arduous. While experts believe the virus came naturally from animals, possibly batsotherwise little is known.
The team is expected to investigate the earliest reported cases of the virus in China and, most likely, to examine data from samples collected in a sprawling wet market in Wuhan that sold game meat and live animals. Many of the first reported infections have been traced there.
How much access the team in China gets will be crucial, according to public health experts.
You should be able to review all of the data collected by the Chinese Center for Disease Control on the outbreak, “including contact tracing, environmental sampling, genetic sequences and patient zero identification,” said Raina MacIntyre, director of biosecurity programs at the University of New’s Kirby Institute South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “It is important to do this comprehensively and transparently.”
The health department has not specified how long the examination will take, nor has published a detailed itinerary for the team’s visit.
Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist at W.H.O. Team said the investigation is a “long-term project”.
“We will summarize and discuss all the scientific information that our colleagues in China have already collected:” What does that tell us? “She said in one current interview with CGTN, the Chinese international broadcaster. “Is there any information we would like to add? How could that be done? “
The team must bypass attempts to politicize its investigation.
The pandemic has damaged China’s reputation, and many foreign governments are still angry that Beijing has done nothing more to contain the crisis at its earliest stages. So Chinese propagandists are trying to get the W.H.O. Study to strengthen China’s image and portray the country as a mature superpower.
“China is open, frank and righteous,” Xinhua, the official news agency, said in one comment on Wednesday about the investigation.
The WHO. himself was also attacked by the Trump administration for appearing to bow to the will of China, despite criticism of the United States for its ineffective response to the pandemic. Before the team landed, Secretary of State was Mike Pompeo said on twitter on Tuesday: “The @WHO has been corrupted by China’s influence and bought cheaply. WHO investigators still have no access to Wuhan – a year after the first cases were reported? “
On the same day, Global Times, a state tabloid, wrote The upcoming visit showed that China “has always endeavored to make its contribution to the global fight against the pandemic with a transparent, responsible attitude and a spirit of respect for science”.
The Chinese government has tried to advance unsubstantiated theories that the virus emerged outside of China. Chinese scientists have suggested this with no evidence packaged food from overseas The virus may have brought to China or the pandemic may have started in India.
The heated political climate will make it easy for the W.H.O. Experts say to conduct an independent investigation.
“The main concern here is that the origin of the outbreak has been so politicized,” said Huang, the global health expert. “That has the space for the W.H.O. to have an independent, objective and scientific investigation. “
Albee Zhang and Claire Fu did research.