WHO says ‘most likely’ pathway of Covid virus was from animals to humans, dismisses lab leak theory

Peter Ben Embarek and Marion Koopmans (R) attain at a press conference to wrap up a lunge to by a worldwide group of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) within the metropolis of Wuhan in China’s Hefei province on February 9, 2021.


A world group of scientists led by the World Health Organization stated Tuesday that the survey for a near the coronavirus used to be first introduced stays a “work in development,” with extra overview wished into how and whether or no longer the illness circulated in animals outdated to infecting humans.

Scientists were working within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, the build the illness used to be first identified, for the previous four weeks as phase of their survey for clues to the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group of investigators has visited hospitals, laboratories and markets, including the Huanan Seafood Market, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Middle for Disease Control laboratory.

The lunge to, which has been shrouded in secrecy, used to be furthermore anticipated to search spherical researchers issue with early responders moreover a pair of potentially the most principal patients. The group carried out two weeks of quarantine outdated to starting up to lunge to native websites.

Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO’s food safety and animal illness specialist and chairman of the investigation group, stated at a press briefing that the “presumably” pathway for Covid used to be a crossover into humans from an middleman species. This hypothesis will “require more overview and more particular (and) centered overview,” he stated.

The initial findings of the investigation did no longer safe proof of sizable Covid outbreaks in Wuhan or in other areas outdated to Dec. 2019. On the opposite hand, researchers did safe proof of wider Covid circulation exterior the Huanan Seafood Market that identical month, Ben Embarek stated.

He added it used to be no longer but which that it’s likely you’ll recall to mind to pinpoint the animal middleman host for the coronavirus, describing the findings after practically a pair of month of conferences and space visits as “work in development.”

“By near of belief what came about within the early days of December 2019, did we commerce dramatically the image we had beforehand? I manufacture no longer philosophize so,” Ben Embarek stated.

“Did we beef up our belief? Did we add principal aspects to that anecdote? Completely,” he stated.

The WHO has sought to lend a hand watch over expectations of a definitive conclusion to the origins of the Covid pandemic. To build the mission in a broader context, it took more than a decade to safe the origins of SARS, while the origins of Ebola — first identified within the 1970s — is unexcited no longer but identified.

It is miles hoped that data of the earliest identified cases of the coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan in slow 2019, might perchance well furthermore abet to title how the outbreak started and forestall identical pandemics within the prolonged drag.

After concerns about salvage admission to and delays in acquiring visas, the World Health Organization-led group arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 14 to overview the foundation of the coronavirus alongside Chinese scientists.

Lab leak ‘extremely no longer really’

A understanding that the coronavirus used to be leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology used to be discredited by the group of investigators. The hypothesis had been perpetuated by faded President Donald Trump’s administration, without the weight of proof, and strenuously denied by Chinese officials.

“The laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely no longer liable to expose the introduction of the virus into the human population,” Ben Embarek stated. “As a consequence of this truth, is no longer within the hypotheses that we’ll have the option to counsel for future overview.”

Talking alongside the WHO’s Ben Embarek from the Hilton Optics Valley Hotel in Wuhan on Tuesday, Liang Wannian, head of the expert Covid panel at China’s National Health Price, stated he agreed with this review.

The group had reached the conclusion that a lab leak must unexcited be regarded as extremely no longer really “on the premise of a serious dialogue and in actuality diligent overview,” he added.

Minks are viewed at a farm in Gjol, northern Denmark on October 9, 2020.

HENNING BAGGER | Ritzau Scanpix | AFP thru Getty Photos

Liang stated ongoing overview into the origins of the virus must point of curiosity on how the virus circulated in animals outdated to infecting humans.

Animal hosts were but to be identified however bats and pangolins are both potential candidates for transmission, Liang stated, however samples from these species were no longer chanced on to be “sufficiently identical” to the Covid virus.

The high susceptibility of minks and cats to the Covid virus signifies there will be utterly different animals that serve as reservoirs, Liang persisted, however overview stays insufficient currently.

China’s National Health Price spokesperson stated there might perchance well furthermore were an unreported circulation of the coronavirus outdated to it used to be first detected in Wuhan. On the opposite hand, Liang stated there used to be no proof of righteous Covid circulation in Wuhan outdated to the slow 2019 outbreak.

World pickle

The WHO has beforehand cited genetic sequencing that confirmed the coronavirus had started in bats and sure jumped to but one more animal outdated to infecting humans.

Many of the individuals who had fallen unwell with the original virus in Wuhan, a metropolis with a population of roughly 11 million, were reported to beget had hyperlinks to the Huanan Seafood Market.

Scientists at the delivery suspected the virus got here from wild animals provided at the seafood market, prompting China to without notice prohibit public salvage admission to to the market in the starting up of final year.

China’s CDC has since stated samples taken from the seafood market counsel it used to be a space the build the virus spread, no longer the build the outbreak first emerged.

Further to this, China’s Liang stated on Tuesday that Huanan Seafood Market used to be really one of the principal areas the build the coronavirus first emerged, however he added it used to be no longer which that it’s likely you’ll recall to mind with novel proof to opt how the virus used to be first introduced to the seafood market.

Security personnel stand guard exterior the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) group investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus salvage a lunge to to the institute in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on February 3, 2021.


The origins of the coronavirus live principal since the virus is continually evolving, as highly infectious mutant traces identified within the U.Good ample. and South Africa expose.

To this point, more than 106 million members beget lowered in measurement the coronavirus worldwide and it has prompted no lower than 2.32 million deaths, per data compiled by Johns Hopkins College.

The U.S., by far, has reported the best preference of confirmed Covid cases and deaths, with more than 27 million reported infections and 465,072 fatalities.

China has published runt data on its overview into the origins of the coronavirus and there had been standard worldwide pickle about what the researchers in Wuhan will be allowed to search spherical and discontinue as phase of their investigation.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this anecdote.