After a heavily controlled WHO visit to China, a team of 14 scientists investigating the origin of the pandemic concluded their month-long investigation by echoing the Communist Party’s claim that ‘cold-chain products’ such as Australian beef could have led to the initial outbreak.
Peter Embarek, leader of the WHO team said that further studies should be conducted to determine whether the virus was imported into the country – possibly on frozen meat sold at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan where the first cases were detected.
The investigators also added that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a lab and that no further studies need to be conducted into the theory.
The report will arm the critics of WHO who always feared that the investigation might just become a part of the “Chinese whitewashing”.
Reacting to the WHO report, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said, “not surprising that there are no surprises there. The overwhelming likelihood is that you have an animal-based source and that the virus is likely to arise somewhere in the vicinity of the first human cases”.
However, Professor Dominic Dwyer, who was part of the 14 member team broke ranks with these claims saying the source was most likely bats as previously suspected. He told Nine News that “the evidence for it starting elsewhere in the world is actually very limited”.
“I think the explosion in the Wuhan market was really just an amplifying event. The virus had probably been circulating for some good few weeks beforehand among people in the community,” he added.
In the aftermath of the outbreak, Beijing officials desperately tried to cover up and shift the blame on other countries through its “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy style and state-owned media propaganda devices.
Australian Diplomatic relations with China also took a hit during the pandemic after the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for investigating the origin of the virus. China responded by putting unofficial bans and tariffs on Australian imports, severely impacting six of Australia’s top beef distributors.
WHO and its Chief Dr Tedros have previously received criticism for being “China-centric”. It had also been revealed that Dr Tedros received support from Beijing in his running to become the chief and that China has donated large sums of money to organisations he has been part of.