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Current Affairs

WHO team in Wuhan

Date: 16 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


The WHO team of international researchers that arrived in the central Chinese city of Wuhan hopes to find clues to the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.



The search for the origins is likely to be a years-long effort that could help prevent future pandemics.



  • The industrial and transportation hub on the Yangtze River is the first place the coronavirus surfaced in the world. It’s possible that the virus came to Wuhan undetected from elsewhere.

  • People began falling ill in December 2019, many with links to a sprawling food market that dealt in live animals.

  • The growing number of patients triggered alarms that prompted China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to send a team to investigate.


The agenda

  • Scientists initially suspected the virus came from wild animals sold in the market. The market has since been largely ruled out but it could provide hints to how the virus spread so widely.

  • Samples from the market may still be available, along with the testimony of those involved in the early response.

  • The Wuhan Institute of Virology maintains an extensive archive of genetic sequences of bat coronaviruses built in the wake of the 2003 SARS pandemic.

  • WHO team members would hope for access to lab logbooks and data, both junior and senior researchers and safety protocols for sample collection, storage, and analysis.


Reasons for secrecy

  • The ruling Communist Party keeps a tight hold on information and is particularly concerned about possible revelations about its handling of the virus that could open it up to international criticism and financial demands.

  • An investigation found that the government has strictly controlled all scientific research related to the outbreak and forbids researchers from speaking to the press.