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WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a July 3 press conference in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/pool/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admonished China on Tuesday for delaying authorization that would allow groups of scientists from other countries to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan.

Why it matters: We still don't know how the pandemic began.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: It took nearly a year for China to agree to WHO involvement in an investigation into coronavirus origins, an almost absurdly lengthy delay.

  • During that time, Tedros repeatedly praised China's response and fended off criticism. It's interesting that he would choose to finally speak out against China's last-minute foot-dragging when a year has already been lost.

What he's saying: WHO learned on Tuesday that Chinese officials had "not yet finalized the necessary permissions" for members of the international scientific team to arrive in China, just after those scientists had begun to travel in the last 24 hours, Tedros said.

  • "I am very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute."
  • Tedros said he had been in contact with senior Chinese officials in response to the incident and that he "once again made it clear the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team."
  • "I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedure for the earliest possible deployment," he said.

Go deeper

10 hours ago - Health

Fauci: U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if vaccine rollout goes to plan

NIAID director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that if the coronavirus vaccine rollout by the incoming Biden administration goes as planned, the U.S. could start to see effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early-to-mid fall.

What he's saying: "If we [vaccinate] efficiently in April, May, June, July, August, we should have that degree of protection that could get us back to some form of normality. ... But we've also got to do it on a global scale," he said at a Harvard Business Review virtual event.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
16 hours ago - Health

Global vaccine inequities raise concerns of persistent spread in developing world

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The unequal global access to coronavirus vaccines is raising concerns that the virus will be left to spread and dangerously mutate in some parts of the world, Bloomberg reports.

What they're saying: "We cannot leave parts of the world without access to vaccines because it's just going to come back to us," Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at health research foundation Wellcome, told Bloomberg. "That puts everyone around the world at risk."

7 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Trump's final full day in office

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Over 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: It only took a little over a month for the U.S. to reach this mass casualty after 300,000 COVID deaths were reported last month. That's over 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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