The group has so far also visited hospitals where early cases were detected, markets, and an exhibition on the battle with the outbreak in the provincial capital of Wuhan.
A World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic left its quarantine hotel on Thursday to begin fieldwork, two weeks after arriving in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged in late 2019.
During his first days in office, US President Joe Biden has signed dozens of executive orders cancelling his predecessor’s most damaging decrees, including the ban on the entry of Muslims
The group is expected to spend two more weeks in China, and will visit the seafood market at the centre of the early outbreak. It will also visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology. One hypothesis, rejected by China, is that the outbreak was caused by a leak at the government lab.
The group was driven to the Jinyintan Hospital, one of the city’s first to deal with patients in early 2020 suffering from a then-unknown virus, as the horrors of the virus emerged in the central Chinese city.
About 6 million of the doses will arrive in the first quarter of 2021 under the COVAX scheme, with the remainder due by mid-year, Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, said in a statement.
The mission, delayed by China and weighed down by political baggage, has a remit to explore how the virus jumped from animal to human. Experts say the Huanan market still plays a role in tracing the origins of the virus, since the first cluster of cases was identified there.
The centre in the province of Hubei, which fights epidemic diseases in animals, could provide information on how a coronavirus endemic in horseshoe bats in southwest China might have crossed into humans, possibly via an intermediary species.
Most scientists reject the hypothesis, but some speculate that a virus captured from the wild could have figured in experiments at the lab to test the risks of a human spillover and then escaped via an infected staff member.