“I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have reaffirmed that this work is a priority of the World Health Organization,” he said of the development with Beijing. Peter Ben Emberek, WHO’s senior expert on transgender animal diseases, who went to China for preliminary work last July, will lead the task.
Two members of the international team were already on a trip to China. Emergency chief Mike Ryan said one had now returned and the other was being trafficked in a third country. However, he added: “We believe that this is a logistics and bureaucratic issue that can be resolved very quickly.”
Prior to the trip, Beijing was trying to shape stories about when and where the epidemic began, with senior diplomat Wang Yi showing that “more and more studies” have appeared in many regions. Ryan had previously called this “very speculative.”
Although some, including US President Donald Trump, have questioned Beijing’s actions during the eruption, China has rejected criticism of its handling of the initial lawsuits, which came out in late 2019.
Announcing plans to leave the WHO, Washington has called for a “transparent” inquiry and criticized Chinese experts for conducting its first phase of research.