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COVID Lab Leak Unlikely, Bats May Be Culprit: WHO-CHINA Study 

The joint WHO-China study noted that a lab leak is extremely unlikely.

Published
COVID-19
2 min read
The reports of the World Health Organisation’s joint study with China to trace the origins of COVID indicate that it is more likely the virus has been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.
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The reports of the World Health Organisation’s joint study with China to trace the origins of COVID indicate that it is more likely the virus has been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal. The study noted that a lab leak is extremely unlikely, reported The Associated Press (AP).

The ten-member expert team from WHO was formed and it began coordinating this visit with Chinese officials since July 2020 to probe into the earliest cases of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan in December 2019.

The report proposes further research towards other hypothesis, except the lab leak. The findings were largely as expected and left many questions unanswered, stated AP, who has a copy of a draft of the report. The report may be ready for release in the next few days according to a WHO official.

The release of the report has been delayed over time, leading to speculations of China skewing conclusions and deflecting any blame for the spread of the virus, reported AP.

Background

There was no evidence found of large outbreaks that could be related to COVID-19 prior to December 2019 in Wuhan or anywhere else, World Health Organisation's (WHO) Ben Embarek said on Tuesday, 9 February, detailing the findings of a joint WHO and Chinese mission that was probing the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

He added that the hypothesis of the virus being leaked from a lab was also ‘extremely unlikely’, noting that when lab accidents happen, ‘they are extremely rare events’, The Guardian reported.

At a briefing, China’s team head Liang Wannian said that the team did find evidence of wider circulation outside the Wuhan Huanan market in December 2019, adding that the investigation has uncovered new information but has not dramatically changed the picture of the COVID-19 outbreak, reported Reuters.

On the origins of the virus, Liang Wannian told reporters that while transmission from animals was the likely route, so far ‘the reservoir hosts remain to be identified’, AFP reported.

He further expressed that his team regarded the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to be in a good state in 2019 and that it was ‘very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place’.

(With inputs from AP, Reuters and AFP)

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