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United States joins 13 other countries in criticizing WHO for lack of transparency in China Covid report

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This photo taken on February 17, 2020 shows medical staff working at an exhibition center transformed into a hospital in Wuhan, central Hubei province in China.

STR | UKTN via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The United States on Tuesday signed a joint statement with 13 other countries criticizing the long-awaited report by the World Health Organization on the origins of Covid-19.

In a joint declaration, the governments of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Korea from the South, Slovenia, the UK and the US said the report “had been significantly delayed and was denied access to full and original data and samples. “

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“During a severe outbreak of an unknown pathogen with pandemic potential, a rapid, independent, expert-led and unhindered assessment of the origins is essential to better prepare our populations, public health institutions, industries and our governments to respond successfully to such an epidemic and prevent future pandemics, ”according to the joint statement.

“Going forward, there must now be a renewed commitment from WHO and all Member States for access, transparency and speed,” the group added.

While the 120-page WHO report, released on Tuesday and produced by a team of international scientists, helped advance the scientific community’s understanding of the deadly virus that has swept the world, it did not subject to a full assessment.

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“We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and not neglect anything as we are doing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday at a briefing.

“Finding the origin of a virus takes time and we owe it to the world to find the source so that we can collectively take action to reduce the risk of it happening again. No research trip can provide all the answers. “, he added.

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At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration was still reviewing the WHO report, adding that the results gave a “partial and incomplete picture.”

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“The report lacks crucial data, information and access. It represents a partial and incomplete picture,” Psaki said. “There is a second step in this process which we believe should be led by international and independent experts. They should have unimpeded access to the data,” she added.

Psaki criticized Beijing’s lack of transparency when asked about China’s participation in the WHO report, which included at least 17 experts.

“Well, they weren’t transparent. They didn’t provide any underlying data. It certainly doesn’t constitute cooperation,” she said.

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