WHO is completing research into the unlikely Wuhan laboratory leak theory

Kim Hjelmgaard

| USA ma


World Health Organization investigators on Tuesday said they would not continue research into whether the coronavirus had leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on food safety and animal diseases, announced his decision at a press conference marking the end of a visit by an international team of WHO experts to the city where COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019.

According to Embarek, there is insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that the virus escaped from a Wuhan Chinese biosafety laboratory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that the WHO adheres to its earlier determination that COVID-19 is most likely a human intermediate.

Where did COVID-19 come from? A bat inside a distant Chinese cave

The WHO team spent several weeks on a fact-finding mission to Wuhan. Experts from ten nations have visited hospitals, research institutes and the wildlife market linked to the epidemic. However, WHO fieldwork and other activities in Wuhan were closely monitored by Chinese officials and security officers, and Beijing has repeatedly resisted a fully independent investigation into the origin of the virus.

“Have we dramatically changed the previous picture? I don’t think so,” said Embarek, a Danish citizen who spoke on behalf of the WHO delegation at Tuesday’s press conference. “Have we improved our understanding? Have we added details to this picture? Absolutely.”

There is no evidence to support that the coronavirus came from a virological laboratory in Wuhan.

The theory stems from circumstantial evidence from a variety of sources, including repeated statements by former President Donald Trump and his political supporters, who never relied on concrete evidence. Speculation has also arisen over the relative proximity of the Wuhan Institute of Virology to the Wuhan wildlife market, where some of the first occurrences of the virus have been traced. Several high-profile commentators also noted that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is China’s most advanced biosafety laboratory and is known for research on bat coronaviruses.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology also attracted negative attention as China initially refused to share information on certain aspects of the epidemic.

According to Embarek, the WHO team’s work to explore the origins of COVID-19 refers to the “natural reservoir” of bats. However, he said more work is needed because it is not clear whether this is in Wuhan itself.


A WHO team lands in Wuhan hunting for the origin of the virus

A global research team arrived in the central Chinese city on Thursday, where the coronavirus epidemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins, amid uncertainty as to whether Beijing could try to prevent the embarrassing discoveries. (January 14)


More: Pfizer expects COVID-19 to reduce production time by nearly 50% as production accelerates, increasing efficiencyThe WHO has found no indication that the virus was circulating in Wuhan before the first official cases were detected, he said.

Liang Wannian, a member of the Chinese Health Commission who also appeared at the press conference, said it is possible that COVID-19 originated somewhere else in China before arriving in Wuhan.

The WHO concluded that the wildlife market in Wuhan was an area where the virus began to spread rapidly, but could not determine how it first arrived.

“The market was probably a place where this kind of spread could easily have happened, but that’s not the whole story,” Embarek said.

Peter Daszak, a British-American member of the WHO team in Wuhan, told TODAY to the US earlier that “in the minds of peoples, this image may be of a man in a laboratory in China dropping a petri dish, and that somehow leads to a massive crowd. epidemic It ‘s just not like that Millions of people go to bat caves every year, hunt and eat game. It happens every day.

“They’re exposed to bat viruses every day. All these people need to do is go to a city, cough and spread the virus.”

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