Tuesday, 16 March 2021
WHO experts sent to China in January to investigate the origins of the pandemic will most likely release their report next week instead of this week, the UN agency said Tuesday.
The report is simply not ready, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier, told a UN press briefing in Geneva.
The release of the report is highly anticipated. Initially, the WHO had said that the team of experts, which spent four weeks in Wuhan, would quickly release a preliminary report before the final report. This draft document was finally abandoned in February, but without any real explanation.
Then the WHO Director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced on 5 March that the report would be published in the week of 15 March, promising to give the Member States the first look at it before it is published and to explain the conclusions.
The WHO was tasked by a resolution passed by its members in May 2020 to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, in collaboration with Chinese experts.
The selection of the specialists took a long time, and the experts, recognised by their peers in their various specialities, were only able to travel to China in January, after long discussions between Beijing and the WHO.
During a lengthy press conference in Wuhan at the end of their mission, the WHO experts had outlined the various working hypotheses on how the virus causing Covid-19 passed from an animal to humans.
They seemed to rule out the possibility that the virus could have escaped from the Wuhan Virology Institute as highly unlikely. However, the WHO Director General soon afterwards corrected this by saying that “all hypotheses remain on the table” to explain the origin of the pandemic.
The Brussels Times