World Health Organization says COVID-19 likely emerged from animals; lab leak unlikely

Coronavirus Origin WHO dismisses'lab leak theory, says animals likely source of COVID-19

An worldwide expert mission, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to Wuhan has concluded that it was very likely that the novel coronavirus first passed to humans from a bat through an intermediary animal.

In the report - a draft copy of which was obtained by AP and AFP news agencies, experts said that the intermediary host hypothesis was deemed "likely to very likely", while the theory that the virus escaped from a laboratory was seen as "extremely unlikely".

Peter Ben Embarek of the World Health Organization team holds up a chart showing pathways of transmission of the virus during a joint press conference held at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on February 9, 2021.

The US expects the WHO-led investigation to require further study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, perhaps including a return visit to China, a senior US official told reporters last week.

The AP received what appeared to be a near-final version on Monday from a Geneva-based diplomat from a W.H.O. -member country.

The U.S. has "real concerns about the methodology and the process" of the report, including that the Chinese government "apparently helped to write it", Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN.

The report said that it was not clear whether the report might be changed before its release.

Netizens compare Suez Canal blockade to Bengaluru traffic snarls
Such an arrangement is customary, but the ship's captain retains ultimate authority over the vessel, according to experts. Rabie said the ships that are waiting were free to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope, but none had yet done so.

The report examined the idea of a lab leak from, for instance, the Wuhan Institute of Virology - a theory promoted by former USA president Donald Trump's administration.

The researchers listed four scenarios in order of likelihood for the emergence of the virus named SARS-CoV-2. The research - conducted by a team made up of both global and Chinese experts - was aimed at galvanizing efforts to trace the origin of the virus that touched off the worst pandemic in more than a century, as well as its route of transmission to humans and the possible role of an intermediate animal host. They evaluated direct spread from bats to humans as likely, and said that spread through "cold-chain" food products was possible but not likely.

Peter Ben Embarek, the World Health Organization expert who led the Wuhan mission, said on Friday that the report had been finalised and was being fact-checked and translated. It is expected in the next few days.

In the 15 months since the coronavirus emerged, the pandemic has engulfed the planet, killing almost 2.8 million people and shredding the global economy.

One theory examined was that the virus jumped directly from bats to humans.

In the latest statement, experts said they believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the Covid-19 disease originally came from bats.

China previously urged the W.H.O.to find the "origin" of the coronavirus in America.

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