CHINA / SOCIETY
Joint report on virus origins ‘delayed’ due to priority on precision and quality, not interference: Chinese team leader
Published: Mar 31, 2021 08:34 PM
Peter Ben Embarek (C) and other members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team visit a local community in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province on February 4, 2021. Photo: VCG

Peter Ben Embarek (C) and other members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team visit a local community in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province on February 4, 2021. Photo: VCG


The report on coronavirus origins study by the WHO-China joint team was "delayed" due to their focus on precision and quality of the report, not outside interference, and the report is all about science, not politics, the team leader of the Chinese side of the joint team said Wednesday, in response to 14 countries' accusation of China "withholding data."

In a joint statement, the US and 13 other countries including the UK, Australia and South Korea expressed concerns over why the report was significantly delayed, and they suspected experts lacked access to complete, original data and samples during their research in Wuhan.

Liang Wannian, head of the Chinese side of the WHO-China joint research team, said at a Wednesday press conference that it took some time to write a complete report on the 28-day field research in Wuhan as "every word, conclusion and data needs to be verified and sorted out, and every paragraph needs to be reasoned in logic." "The top priority for the report is to keep it scientific." 

The report was published in English and Chinese, which means each English version should be translated into Chinese and the joint team experts should also review whether the Chinese translation is exactly the same as the English version. There were many rounds back and forth, Liang said. 

"We have to make sure that we do it well within the limits of our ability. Experts from both China and the WHO have never had an idea of a 'delayed report,' as we have been putting quality as our priority," Liang said, noting that only after the WHO-China joint expert team approved the report could it be released. 

"We don't have a predetermined time. We know that the world is watching, and we're working around the clock to meet that deadline. So, the 'delay' was not due to interference, nor because of the laziness of the scientists," Liang said. 

The Chinese team leader also responded to the question on "incomplete data," saying that in any research, no one can claim that the data collected and the information acquired is 100 percent perfect, complete and unassailable. 

"From the present level of knowledge and under the present conditions, we have collected all data we need to collect," he said.


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