- An interim report summarizing the WHO investigation into the origins of the virus has been scrapped.
- The WHO says this summary will be published with the full report “in coming weeks”.
- This comes as the independence of the investigation from Chinese influence has come under scrutiny.
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An interim report summarizing an World Health Organisation investigation into the origins of the coronavirus has been scrapped, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said on February 12 that a summary of the results would come within weeks, the Journal said.
But that plan has been scrapped, lead scientist on the investigation team, Peter Ben Embarek, told the Journal.
The results of the WHO-China Joint study are not yet public, the WHO confirmed in an email to Insider on Friday.
Instead, “the team wants to issue the full report at the same time as the summary so all information is available to public”, said spokesman Tarik Jašarević.
This news comes as the independence of the team conducting the investigation has come under fire.
In a letter published on Thursday, 26 scientists not affiliated with the WHO team said that “structural limitations” in how the team operated made a full examination of the origins of the pandemic “all but impossible”.
The scientists said that half of the team is made up of “Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited”.
The investigation has to rely on “information the Chinese authorities chose to share with them”, the scientists said in the letter.
The WHO team arrived in January to Wuhan to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. It was over a year after the beginning of the outbreak.
After a month-long investigation, the team presented its early conclusions to journalists, saying that they had ruled out a laboratory origin for the virus.
After the press conference, one of the scientists on the team said that China had refused to release the raw data to the WHO team, making it more difficult to assess the quality of the information.
Responding to that report, the White House said on February 13 it was “deeply concerned” about the way the early findings were communicated, and called on China to release the data from the earliest days of the outbreak.
“It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government”, the statement said.
The WHO told Insider in an email that the full report is “expected in coming weeks”.