The sole U.S. member of the World Health Organization delegation investigating the origins of COVID-19 on the ground in China suggested Tuesday that American intelligence on the matter shouldn’t be trusted.
Dr. Peter Daszak, who worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology prior to the outbreak, tweeted that he was “disappointed” after the State Department said it won’t take the WHO on its word alone after its delegation announced Tuesday it’s highly unlikely that COVID-19 could have accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday the State Department will not draw any conclusions on the matter until it’s able to review the WHO’s report explaining how it came to its conclusion.
“We are going to base our conclusions on nothing other than the data nothing other than the science and based on that we’ll come to our conclusion,” Price said.
Daszak said Price’s statement undermined the veracity of the WHO’s work and said the White House should blindly trust its determination before having the opportunity to review its report.
“Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects,” Daszak tweeted. “Happy to help WH w/ their quest to verify, but don’t forget it’s “TRUST” then “VERIFY”!”
Well now this????. @JoeBiden has to look tough on China. Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects. Happy to help WH w/ their quest to verify, but don’t forget it’s “TRUST” then “VERIFY”! https://t.co/ukaNAkDfEG
— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) February 10, 2021
Members of the WHO delegation, along with Chinese health officials, said during a press conference Tuesday that it found no cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan prior to the first known reported cases in December 2019.
The claim contradicts a report released in January by former President Donald Trump’s State Department that said the U.S. government has reason to believe researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came down with COVID-19 symptoms prior to the first known cases of the outbreak, a data point that suggests the possibility that the lab, which was researching bat-based coronaviruses prior to the outbreak, could have played a role in the virus’s release into the human population.
Price said Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s State Department is not walking away from the Trump administration’s report, but noted that it did not definitively conclude that COVID-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
“We are looking forward to receiving this full WHO report, to reviewing it, to reviewing the underlying data, and to cross-referencing what may be in our own holdings,” Price said.
Price also criticized the Chinese government for its lack of transparency surrounding the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Chinese government did not permit the WHO to begin investigating the pandemic’s origin on the ground until January, over a year after the outbreak began.
“Clearly, the Chinese, at least heretofore, has not offered the requisite transparency that we need and that, just as importantly, the international community needs so that we can prevent these sorts of pandemics from ever happening again,” Price said.
“We will work with our partners, and also draw on information collected and analyzed by our own intelligence community … rather than rush to conclusions that may be motivated by anything other than science,” he added.
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