WHO Team Clears China Lab of Accusation of Leaking Coronavirus
A team of international and Chinese scientists looking for the origins of COVID-19 said on Tuesday that the coronavirus most likely first appeared in humans after jumping from an animal. They also dismissed the unlikely alternate theory that the virus was leaked from a Chinese lab.
Earlier this year, a team of experts from the World Health Organization visited Wuhan – the Chinese city where the first cases of coronavirus emerged. Though their findings did not bring about any dramatic changes in the current understanding of the early days of the pandemic, they did add important details to the story.
It also allowed the joint Chinese-Who team to rule out the one theory on the origins of the virus. The Wuhan Institute of Virology collected several virus samples leading to the allegations that it might have been the source of the original virus outbreak, whether accidentally or on purpose. Experts have now denied any such possibility.
Probable Cause of Spread
According to the experts from the joint team, the virus might have followed the pathway from bat to another animal before affecting human beings. The mission was meant to be an initial step to understand the origin of the virus, which scientists think might have passed to humans through a wild animal like a pangolin or bamboo rat. The transmission might have taken place directly or through frozen foods.
The team found no evidence that might indicate the earlier spread of the virus and confirmed that the initial outbreak happened in the second half of December 2019.
It took months to negotiate for the WHO team to arrange the visit. China only agreed to it amidst massive international pressure during the WHO’s World Health Assembly meeting last May. Meanwhile, Beijing had continued to resist calls for an independent investigation.
Luckily, life in Wuhan has largely returned to normal.