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Screenshot of Jamie Metzl. Photo: CBS

The World Health Organization's probe into the COVID-19 pandemic origins is not an investigation, it's "essentially a highly chaperoned, highly curated study tour," a WHO adviser and former Clinton administration official told CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday.

Why it matters: Jamie Metzl's comments that China's government set the mission's ground rules and had "veto power" over who could be on the research team add to concerns raised by the Biden administration and others that the Chinese Communist Party may have interfered in the investigation.

  • The former National Security Council official told CBS' Lesley Stahl that the WHO "agreed that in most instances China would do the primary investigation" and then share its findings with international experts.
  • "So these international experts weren't allowed to do their own primary investigation," added Metzl, a member of a WHO advisory committee on genetic engineering.

Of note: Metzl said the visiting scientists "didn't demand access to the records and samples and key personnel" when they visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • "China had ruled out a lab accident long before the WHO team arrived at the airport in Wuhan" on Jan. 14 Metzl added.
  • He signed an open letter earlier this month calling for a new, independent investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

The other side: Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO investigation team and an expert on how animal viruses jump to humans, defended the group and its conclusions, which all but rule out a lab accident.

  • While former CDC director Robert Redfield said with little evidence that he believed the virus originated in the Wuhan lab, Daszak told Stahl after visiting the institute that this was "extremely unlikely."
  • "For an accidental leak that then led to COVID to happen, the virus that causes COVID would need to be in the lab," Daszak told Stahl, noting that 75% of emerging diseases come from animals to people.
  • "They never had any evidence of a virus like COVID in the lab," he said.
  • He said the team "didn't see any evidence of any false reporting or cover-up in the work that we did in China."

What to watch: The WHO team is expected to publish its final report on the investigation soon.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

27 mins ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.