The United Kingdom on Sunday said it shared Washington’s concerns about the World Health Organization’s fact-finding mission on the origins of COVID-19 in China.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he backed the United States’ call on China to release information on the first cases of the disease detected in the country and not to interfere in the WHO’s investigation.
“When you have a zoonotic plague like coronavirus, we need to know exactly how it happened,” Johnson said in an interview with CBS.
“Indeed, if it’s zoonotic, if it really originated from human contact with the animal kingdom, that’s what is asserted. But we need to know exactly what happened. … We need to see the data. We need to see all the evidence. So I thoroughly support what President Biden has said about that.”
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also criticized the level of access given to the experts. “We do share concerns that they get full cooperation and they get the answers they need, and so we’ll be pushing for it to have full access, get all the data it needs,” Raab said in a BBC interview.
On Saturday, the Biden administration demanded transparency from China and the WHO. This came after a report by the Wall Street Journal that China was refusing to give the WHO investigators access to raw data on early COVID-19 cases.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. has “deep concerns” about the investigation, calling on China to release data from the beginning of the outbreak. “It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government,” Sullivan wrote in a statement.
Early in the pandemic, China ignored offers from experts to help investigate the COVID-19 outbreak and has been criticized over failing to share early evidence of human-to-human transmission and suppressing independent media coverage as the pandemic spread globally.