A member of the World Health Organization (WHO) told Reuters that China refused to provide the team with raw data on early COVID-19 cases and only gave a summary.
The WHO deployed a team of medical experts to China last month to probe the origins of the pandemic and to detect how the virus spread.
Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert and a member of WHO, told Reuters that the team requested raw patient data on 174 cases that were identified in December 2019 in China.
He said that without the raw data, efforts to understand how the outbreak began may become complicated.
Raw data of this nature is called “line listings,” Dwyer explained to Reuters, adding that it would normally be anonymised but have detailed information such as the kinds of questions patients were asked and how their responses were analyzed.
Dwyer added that requesting this type of information is “standard practice for an outbreak investigation.”
The team spent four weeks in China in January, probing the origins of the pandemic, with the first two weeks spent in hotel quarantine.
Despite not having access to the raw data, the WHO team concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a lab, a controversial theory that came to light last year.
With the first case of the virus originating in the city of Wuhan, some were quick to point fingers on China in search of someone to blame.
In fact, former US President Donald Trump was one of the figures who alleged that the virus came from a lab in China.
Last month, the former President released a fact sheet that detailed the alleged origin of COVID-19, blaming China for hiding information into the nature of the virus.
China responded to the fact sheet by stating that it was a “conspiracy theory and lies.”
While the handling of the virus remains a controversial topic, some are bringing into question whether lockdown measures were necessary and what role China played in the decision-making.
An open letter was sent to five nation’s intelligence agencies last month, requesting an investigation into China’s role in suggesting lockdown measures and the alleged attempt to trigger an economic crash across the world.
The first cases of the COVID-19 virus were reported to come from a wet market in Wuhan, China. Despite the report, China has denied that its wet market was the site of the virus’ origin.
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