An international team of researchers arrived in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the coronavirus was first detected on Thursday to carry out an investigation. politically sensitive on the origins of the pandemic amid uncertainty over whether Beijing will try to prevent findings that make it look bad.
The investigation, which has already started with a delay due to “bureaucratic problems”, began on the wrong foot this Thursday when at least two experts from the WHO mission were blocked and could not enter China.
The reason: they must have an antibody test.
“The international team of 13 scientists tasked with examining the origins of the virus arrived in Wuhan, China, today … Two scientists are still in Singapore to carry out tests” for coronavirus, the WHO said in a message on Twitter.
The Organization explained that “all members of the team they were subjected to several tests and antibody testing in their home countries. “
Two of the experts tested positive for antibodies and were unable to travel. Photo: AP
Two of the experts tested positive for IgM antibodies (immunoglobulins M), a form of antibody that the body generates in reaction to the virus.
Therefore, they must be subjected to a test again to confirm these antibodies and another class, called IgG (immunoglobulins G).
The WHO team is made up of scientists of different nationalities. The experts must respect a two-week quarantine upon arrival in the country.
Months of disputes
The equipment was approved by the government of President Xi Jinping after months of diplomatic disputes which sparked an unusual public complaint from the director of the United Nations agency.
Scientists suspect that the virus that has killed 1.9 million people worldwide since the end of 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals, probably in southwestern China. The ruling Communist Party, beset by criticism that allowed the disease to spread maintains that the virus came from abroad, possibly in seafood importing frozen, but scientists deny that hypothesis.
The team arrived at the Wuhan airport shortly after 11:00 in a bright yellow Scoot plane and rode through a makeshift clear plastic tunnel to the terminal. The researchers, who they only wear a mask, They were received by airport personnel equipped with protective coveralls, face masks and goggles.
In the group there are virologists and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.
A government spokesman said this week “they will exchange opinions” with Chinese scientists, but did not clarify whether they will be able to collect evidence.
They will spend a two-week quarantine, in addition to undergoing a PCR test and an antibody test for COVID-19, according to CGTN, the English channel of Chinese state television CCTV. They are scheduled to start working with Chinese experts by videoconference during his isolation.
China rejected international requests for an investigation after the US government blamed Beijing for the spread of the virus, which has plunged the global economy into its worst crisis since the 1930s.
Is unlikely that a single visit serves to confirm the origin of the virus: determining the animal reservoir of an outbreak is often a comprehensive task that requires years of research, including animal sampling, genetic analysis, and epidemiological studies.
Source: AFP and AP