Thea Kolsen Fischer (left) of a World Health Organization COVID-19 origin-tracing team arrives at the VIP terminal of the airport in Wuhan, China, on Feb 10, 2021 after the conclusion of the WHO mission. (NG HAN GUAN / AP)
COPENHAGEN - A Danish professor on a World Health Organization team on the COVID-19 origin-tracing mission in Wuhan has criticized Western media outlets for distorting information about cooperation with Chinese authorities, local news reported Monday.
"There was a lot of data ready when we arrived," Thea Kolsen Fischer, professor of virus epidemics and infections at the University of Copenhagen, said in an interview published by the Danish newspaper Politiken.
I can't stress enough how rewarding a process the trip has been. It went beyond all expectations in many ways. When we have had discussions in the expert team, it has only been based on data and documentation.
Thea Kolsen Fischer, Professor of virus epidemics and infections at the University of Copenhagen, who is part of the WHO's COVID-19 origin-tracing team
A misguiding report published by The New York Times on Feb 12 accused Chinese scientists of refusing to share important data about the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing independent investigators for the WHO.
ALSO READ: WHO team members call NYT report misleading
"We had mutual respect for each other's views and competencies," Fischer said, praising the cooperation between the WHO team and the Chinese experts on data and hypotheses during their month-long research.
The expert commended both the WHO team and the Chinese experts for managing to stay free of any major political interests.
"I can't stress enough how rewarding a process the trip has been. It went beyond all expectations in many ways. When we have had discussions in the expert team, it has only been based on data and documentation," she said.
The international team arrived in Wuhan on Jan 14 and formed a joint body with Chinese experts for the Chinese part of the global study on the novel coronavirus origins.
At a press conference on Feb 9, the joint study team said that a laboratory incident is "extremely unlikely" as the cause of COVID-19.
It said introduction through an intermediary host species is "the most likely" passway.
Direct transmission or introduction through cold-chain food is also likely.
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