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Members of the WHO team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

A World Health Organization team of researchers on Friday visited a hospital in Wuhan where China says some of the first coronavirus patients were treated, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday marks the first in-person day of the team's investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, almost a year since the first cases were reported.

  • The WHO team spent two weeks in quarantine since their arrival in China on Jan. 14. They will spend an additional two weeks in the country, according to Reuters.

The big picture: The team had its first face-to-face meeting on Friday with Chinese scientists at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine.

  • China state media disclosed that the hospital was the first to report coronavirus cases, "after treating an elderly couple in late 2019 whose CT scans showed differences from typical pneumonia," Reuters writes.

What's next: The team requested some "detailed underlying data" from Chinese scientists and is expected to meet with early responders and some of the first coronavirus patients.

Worth noting: "Confirmation of the origins of the virus is likely to take years. Pinning down an outbreak’s animal source typically requires exhaustive research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies," AP writes.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
24 mins ago - Health

Why waiving vaccine patents might be a bad idea

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It will take more than waiving patent protections for coronavirus vaccines — which the Biden administration now says it supports — to fix the gaping global divide in access.

Why it matters: Waiving drug companies' intellectual property rights risks setting a bad precedent for future investment in new drugs. And that risk may not be worth it without additional steps to meaningfully increase the availability of shots across the world.