Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on food safety and diseases that jump from animals to humans, said in interviews that the team hopes the report – some 280 pages and complete with graphs, dates and annexes – would be ready for release next week.
Ben Embarek, who led a 10-person international team of experts that visited China in January and February, acknowledged that political pressures have loomed large over the virus pandemic. “We are in the world that we live in,” he said. “It’s possible that there will be pressures from right to left … What we can guarantee is that everyone will be on board” and “unanimous” in their backing of the report once that the text is completed, Ben Embarek said.
The “fine-tuning of the text” has centred on scientific issues, while some Chinese-English translation issues were “taking a lot of time,” he said. The team did not find cases of Covid-19 before December 8, 2019, he said. “We don’t know yet the origins of the pandemic,” he added. It took many months for the UN team to arrange a visit to China with Chinese authorities.
China’s Global Times newspaper yesterday published an interview with Liang Wannian, the head of the Chinese side of the team, who pointed to political pressures that amounted to “huge disrespect to the work of our scientists.”
Liang was quoted as saying some politicians and international media had “insisted on politicising the scientific issue of tracing the source of Covid-19, regardless of scientific facts, for their own personal gain, arbitrarily misinterpreting the scientific findings and reports of our joint team.”