Japan called for a broader investigation into the origins of COVID-19, saying the World Health Organization report released this week was based on work that faced delays and did not have access to essential virus samples.

“To prevent future pandemics, it is essential to carry out rapid, independent and expert-led investigations that are free from surveillance,” Chief Secretary of the Government Katsunobu Kato told reporters. “We are concerned that the latest investigation has faced delays and lack of access to virus samples.”

The WHO presented its report on Tuesday after an expert visit to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases of coronavirus were detected in late 2019.

China has praised its cooperation with the WHO and warned that attempts to politicize the issue could cost lives. The United States and other nations argue that the United Nations health agency report lacks crucial information, access and transparency and that future studies are justified.

Kato called for additional research and analysis and said Japan will encourage the WHO to consider one more investigation within China.

“We will continue to cooperate more with other countries to carry out additional studies that are still needed,” he said.

According to the report, the virus most likely came from bats and spread through an unidentified mammal before reaching humans. In addition, he considered that the hypothesis of a laboratory leak as a transmission route is unlikely and does not deserve further study.

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