WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told the Washington Post the mistakes in the report were the result of “editing errors,” claiming not all of the issues affected the “data analysis process, nor the conclusions.”
The errors the WHO plans to edit include the virus sequence IDs for three of the 13 earliest patients listed in the March report, which falsely tied these cases to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan; and the location of the first COVID-19 case, which the March report put on the side of the Yangtze River opposite to what the Wuhan government reported in June 2020.
The WHO–China report, which concluded that a natural origin was likely and that a lab-leak origin was “highly unlikely,” has been heavily criticized by scientists, including WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, who admitted the report failed to accurately discuss the potential sources of the virus.
WHO adviser Jamie Metzl also slammed the report, calling its conclusions “outrageous.”
“They did a great job of considering the possibility of a zoonotic jump between intermediate animal hosts and frozen food transmission,” he said. “But, they did absolutely nothing to even consider the possibility of an accidental leak. And it’s outrageous that they would insert that it’s highly unlikely when they didn’t even bother to look into it.”
Metzl said it is “most likely” that COVID-19 escaped from a lab where coronaviruses were being studies, such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
However, the WHO has repeatedly denied that the Wuhan lab had anything to do with the outbreak, even after the Trump administration published a report detailing how several researchers in the lab became sick in late 2019 right before the first cases of COVID-19 in the region were confirmed.