US, 13 Countries Not Totally Happy with Data in WHO Virus Origin Report

The U.S. and 13 other countries on Tuesday released a statement raising “concerns” with a report from a World Health Organization (WHO)-convened team into the origins of coronavirus, saying it lacked full access to the information it needed.

“We voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples,” the countries said in a joint statement.

There have long been questions raised about the independence of the WHO-convened team of experts, working jointly with Chinese scientists, and whether the Chinese government was providing full access to needed information on the origins of the virus.

Asked on Tuesday at a White House press briefing if China had cooperated enough with the report, press secretary Jen Psaki said: “They have not been transparent, they have not provided underlying data, that certainly doesn’t qualify as cooperation.”

“We don’t believe that in our review to date that it meets the moment,” Psaki added of the report.

The joint statement was the first reaction after the official release of the report earlier Tuesday. The report did not reach a definitive conclusion, but found the virus likely jumped from animals to humans, and was unlikely to be the result of a lab leak.

“Scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings,” the 14 countries said.

The WHO said Tuesday in reaction to the report that research is continuing and that it is not ruling out any hypotheses at the moment.

“Going forward, there must now be a renewed commitment by WHO and all Member States to access, transparency, and timeliness,” the statement from the 14 countries added.

Along with the U.S., the statement was joined by Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, South Korea, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out China more pointedly in comments on CNN on Sunday.

“We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it,” Blinken said then.