World Health Organization team did not investigate China's cover-up of COVID-19 data

Covid 'most likely' came from bats and China lab leak theory 'extremely unlikely' WHO report concludes

Delays in the publication of the findings, drafted in collaboration with the team's Chinese counterparts, had been blamed on coordination and translation issues, even as a diplomatic tug-of-war raged in the background over the report's contents.

"In view of the above, a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely".

"In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data", Tedros said.

The repeated delays sparked renewed criticism of the United Nations health agency's slow actions in getting the team to Wuhan in the first place.

Detailed talks between China and the World Health Organization began in July last year, but the team of scientists only arrived in Wuhan, the initial epicentre, in January 2021 - more than a year after the start of the pandemic.

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

It's possible the market was not the original source of the outbreak, but that the crowds that gathered at the market - which was densely packed, with a roof and open sewers - may have amplified the spread of the virus.

People in Britain rushed to pools and parks Monday to enjoy newfound freedoms as the government peeled back restrictions there, allowing small groups to gather, or sports activities to resume.

But the highly-anticipated document offered few firm conclusions.

It offered new details on the World Health Organization team's work, particularly in the Huanan seafood market, responsible for a large cluster of cases and initially thought to be the source of the outbreak.

It also said the introduction of the virus into China through frozen food would have been "extraordinary" in December 2019, given the virus had not been detected elsewhere at that time.

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Dutch virologist and team member Marion Koopmans rejected the focus on the unanswered questions, stressing on Twitter that the experts had presented a huge amount of information.

But they said they had worked to rank a number of hypotheses according to how likely they were.

Arguments against Though the closest genetic relation to SARS-CoV-2 is a bat virus, analysis indicates "decades of evolutionary space" between them, suggesting an intermediate host route is more likely. The final report determined that this scenario was "possible to likely".

The Covid-19 pandemic origins report looked into four hypotheses as to how the virus entered the human species, ranking them from the most to the least likely.

In a statement delivered to member states during a briefing on the WHO's long-awaited report into the origins of the pandemic, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, issued a rare rebuke to China.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top United States infectious diseases expert, said he would like to see the report's raw information first before deciding about its credibility.

The report, which is expected to be made public on Tuesday, is being closely watched since discovering the origins of the virus could help scientists prevent future pandemics, but it's also extremely sensitive since China bristles at any suggestion that it is to blame for the current one.

The report did not rule out the hypothesis, privileged by Beijing, of transmission through frozen food, since the virus appears capable of surviving at freezing temperatures and "introduction via cold/food chain products is considered possible".

Arguments against "There is no conclusive evidence for foodborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the probability of a cold-chain contamination with the virus from a reservoir is very low", the report said.

China has been trying to deflect criticism of its handling of the pandemic amid growing scrutiny over the pathogen's origins, including speculation promoted by the former Trump administration that the SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked from a Wuhan lab.

Arguments against "There is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019, or genomes that in combination could provide a SARS-CoV-2 genome", the report said. Daszak also said it wasn't the WHO's job to determine whether the Chinese government covered up details about the pandemic's origins.

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