WHO expert ‘had concerns’ about lab close to 1st COVID cases

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The Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention was handling coronaviruses ”without potentially having the same level of expertise or safety or who knows,” Peter Ben Embarek said during a conference call in January, according to footage shown by TV2.

When a World Health Organization-led team travelled to China earlier this year to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top official said he was worried about safety standards at a laboratory close to the seafood market where the first human cases were detected, according to a documentary released Thursday by Danish television channel TV2.

The Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention was handling coronaviruses ”without potentially having the same level of expertise or safety or who knows,” Peter Ben Embarek said during a conference call in January, according to footage shown by TV2. Ben Embarek is a WHO expert on disease transmission from animals to humans and one of the team’s leaders. But months later, when WHO released its dense report on its mission to Wuhan, the U.N. health agency concluded that a leak of the virus from the lab was ”extremely unlikely” to have caused COVID-19. The WHO report even lent credence to a fringe theory promoted by the Chinese government that the virus may have been spread via frozen seafood packaging.

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