Dominic Dwyer, a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), speaks during an interview on Feb. 13, 2021.
China complicated the fight against COVID-19 from the start by not giving raw data on early cases to the World Health Organization, according to a WHO official.
A WHO team investigating the origins of the pandemic asked for patient data on 174 cases that Chinese officials said were from the very early days of the pandemic in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, Reuters reported Saturday.
Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert who is a member of the team, said they were only given summaries of the cases although giving raw data is standard practice in investigating outbreaks.
Dwyer said getting the raw data was crucial because only half of the 174 cases had exposure to the Huanan market, the now-shuttered wet market in Wuhan where the virus was first detected.
“That’s why we’ve persisted to ask for that,” Dwyer told Reuters. “Why that doesn’t happen, I couldn’t comment. Whether it’s political or time or it’s difficult … But whether there are any other reasons why the data isn’t available, I don’t know. One would only speculate.”
Dwyer’s team arrived in China in January and spent four weeks looking into the origins of the outbreak. He said the issue of access to raw patient data will be included in the summary of the team’s findings, which could be out as early as next week.
The pandemic has killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.