New Zealand absent from list of countries raising concern over World Health Organization COVID-19 origin report

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Fourteen countries released a joint statement on Wednesday “expressing shared concerns” that the study was “significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples”. 

The list of nations which signed the statement includes Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Japan – but not New Zealand.

The statement said there “must now be a renewed commitment by WHO and all Member States to access, transparency, and timeliness” and it was critical for experts to have “full access” to data.

“With all data in hand, the international community may independently assess COVID-19 origins, learn valuable lessons from this pandemic, and prevent future devastating consequences from outbreaks of disease,” it said.

Responding to questions from Newshub about why New Zealand didn’t release the statement, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Aotearoa needed more time to analyse the WHO report before commenting.

“New Zealand is pleased that the report has now been released,” the spokesperson said.

“Our technical experts are currently analysing the report. As this is a scientific report, we want to make sure we understand the science before making any comment. We will wait until our experts have finished analysing the report.”

New Zealand’s absence from the statement earlier raised eyebrows on social media, including from Professor Anne-Marie Brady, an expert on China. She questioned at “what point does NZ’s quiet shift on China look more like timidity, even appeasement?”

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