Wednesday, July 28

WHO discovers that the coronavirus was already circulating in Wuhan in December


Sunday, February 14, 2021 – 22:04

Members of the WHO mission discovered that there were more than a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan as early as December, a sign that reflects a broader spread than previously thought.

A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) arrives at the airport...

Peter Ben Embarek, director of the WHO mission to study the origin of the coronavirus in Wuhan.
ALY SONG REUTERS

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The mission of the World Health Organization (WHO) that visited China believes that in December 2019 the coronavirus was more widespread than previously thought in Wuhan province, the US network CNN reported on Sunday.

The director of that mission, Peter Ben Embarek, declared to the chain that Chinese scientists presented to the mission 174 cases of coronavirus registered in Wuhan and its surroundings and that they were reported in December 2019, of which 100 were confirmed through the laboratory and the remaining by clinical diagnosis of the patient.

He added that this increased number of cases, probably serious cases, discovered by Chinese doctors early on, could mean that the disease affected more than 1,000 people in Wuhan that December.

“The virus was widely circulating in Wuhan in December, which is a new finding,” said Embarek, who returned to Switzerland after four week mission in the Asian country to investigate the origin of the virus.

The investigator pointed out that they discovered more than a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan as early as December, a signal that reflects a wider spread than previously thought.

He added that they were also able to speak with the patient designated by the Chinese authorities as the first case: an office worker in his 40s, with no travel history, and reported infected on December 8, 2019.

Embarek pointed out that after the mission they have managed to collect for the first time 13 different genetic sequences of the virus SARS-COV-2 as of December 2019, which if examined with broader data from patients in China during 2019 could provide clues to the place and time of the outbreak before December.

That genetic material, CNN says, is probably the first international evidence to support the theory that several variants of the virus have been circulating since before December 2019, as estimated by some virologists.

The diffusion of the interview with the director of the mission occurs after the White House on Saturday demanded that the Chinese government make public your data on the first days of the pandemic, and expressed “deep concerns” about the way the WHO mission released its findings after visiting China.

In a statement, the White House National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, considered “imperative” that the investigation of the WHO on the origin of the virus is “independent” with the findings of the mission in Wuhan and “free of any intervention or alteration by the Chinese government.”

On Friday, the newspaper The Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese Government refused to provide the WHO mission with original data on the first cases of the covid-19 in the Asian country and only provided the reports that they had prepared on these infections.

Therefore, the WHO team was unable to review the original data on which these reports were based, something that will allow them to reach their own conclusions about the origin and how the virus spread, according to organization researchers cited anonymously by The Wall Street Journal.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington criticized these comments, noting that “WHO is an authoritative international multilateral organization in the field of health, not an amusement park where one can come and go at will “, in allusion to the process that former US President Donald Trump initiated to leave the organization.

“What the United States has done in recent years has seriously undermined multilateral institutions, including WHO, and has seriously damaged international cooperation on covid-19 “, aadi.

Embarek pointed out to CNN that they hope to return to China’s Wuhan province in the coming months to continue with the investigations, but at the moment there are no specific dates.

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