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China team interviewed Wuhan scientists over virus origins: WHO

GenevaA World Health Organization (WHO) team sent to China to launch a probe into the origins of the new coronavirus had "extensive discussions" with Chinese counterparts, including video exchanges with scientists in Wuhan where the outbreak was first detected, a spokesman said on Tuesday, August 4.

The final results of the investigation are keenly awaited by scientists and governments around the world, none more so than Washington, which lobbied hard for the mission. The Trump administration accuses the WHO of being China-centric and plans to leave the agency over its handling of the pandemic. "The team had extensive discussions with Chinese counterparts and received updates on epidemiological studies, biologic and genetic analysis and animal health research," WHO's Christian Lindmeier told reporters.

The three-week advance mission comprising two specialists in animal health and epidemiology was tasked with laying the groundwork for a broader team of Chinese and international experts that will seek to discover how the virus that causes COVID-19 jumped the species barrier from animals to humans.

Lindmeier did not provide details on the timing or composition of the broader mission. Terms of reference for the broader mission have been produced together with Chinese authorities in draft form, he said, and were not yet publicly available.

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