World Health Organization Wuhan team fears time is running out for answers

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“The longer we delay, because of politics or arguments, the harder it is to get certain information. When we went it was already a year late. Now we are going for 18 months. We still haven’t taken the next step.

“Let’s put aside the political aspects, the postures, and come back to science. “

Dominic Dwyer was part of the World Health Organization delegation that visited Wuhan; here he is waiting in quarantine at the hotel in Sydney in February. Credit:Rhett wyman

Investigators are particularly concerned about the drop in antibody levels.

Animals or humans who carried the virus before it broke out in Wuhan likely carry telltale antibodies, which could be discovered through further investigation. However, the longer the investigation, the greater the chance that these antibodies will disappear naturally.

“The window of opportunity to conduct this crucial investigation is closing quickly: any delay will make some of the studies biologically impossible,” the team writes in Nature.

Professor James Laurenceson, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute, said Beijing believed the investigation into the origins of COVID-19 was being used by America – with Australia as an ally – as a club to attack China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at an event in September last year to honor some of those involved in China's fight against COVID-19.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at an event in September last year to honor some of those involved in China’s fight against COVID-19.Credit:PA

“China saw geopolitics at stake as soon as the Trump administration tried to hijack its own incompetent management of the response to the virus by attacking Beijing and pushing all kinds of theories without supporting evidence,” he said. he declares.

“[China] assessed that the [Australian] the government was in cahoots with Washington and was using COVID-19 as a geopolitical weapon to attack China. “

Professor David Goodman, director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney, said Australia’s handling of the call for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 was “China for Dummies.”

“If the Prime Minister had conducted the task differently, it is likely that there would have been a thorough investigation with [Chinese] cooperation, ”he said. “Once the issue became so politicized by the Prime Minister’s open antagonism, the politics were lost.”

The original WHO report, published in march, concluded that there was “no definitive evidence for or against” four proposed routes for the virus to spread to humans: overflow from wild or farm animals, consumption of contaminated food or leakage of the virus. laboratory.

However, the overflow of an animal was considered the most plausible cause, and a laboratory leak “extremely unlikely”. Since then, more evidence has emerged showing the presence of live animals in one of Wuhan’s wet markets.

The investigative team sharply criticizes media reports of the “lab leak” theory, which they say suggests it is just as likely as a natural origin. The evidence does not support this view, the team writes.

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“Leading scientists working in virology and related fields tell us that the emergence of another virus similar to SARS-CoV-2 is not a matter of if but when, and possibly this century.” Said a spokesperson for the Australian Academy of Sciences.

“This is where the resources of the international scientific community should be concentrated, with the appropriate support from their governments.”

Liam Mannix’s Examiner newsletter explains and analyzes science with a rigorous emphasis on evidence. Sign up to receive it every week.


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