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Covid Origin Study Found Lab Leak ‘Extremely Unlikely...

Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Covid Origin Study Found Lab Leak ‘Extremely Unlikely,’ AP Says

SARS-CoV-2-also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19 Photographer: BSIP/Universal Images Group Editorial/Getty Images
By Bloomberg
29 Mar 2021 0

(Bloomberg) --The coronavirus probably spread from bats to humans via another animal, with the likelihood it was leaked from a lab in China “extremely unlikely,” according to the long-awaited results of a joint World Health Organization-China study into the origins of Covid-19 reported by the Associated Press.

By Jason Gale
Mar 29, 2021, 8:33 AM
Word Count: 544

The findings align with what researchers said last month, at the end of their mission to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the first Covid cases emerged at the end of 2019, and in their subsequent public comments, including to Bloomberg News. The scientists proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis, the AP reported Monday, citing a draft copy of the report, which it said left many questions unanswered.

The AP received what it said appeared to be a near-final version of the report from a Geneva-based diplomat. It wasn’t clear whether the report might still be changed prior to its release, the AP said.

The hunt for the virus’s origin has been shrouded in controversy since the start of the pandemic, with China criticized for delaying access to scientists and both Beijing and Washington pushing alternate theories about how Covid began. The report’s release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions to divert blame for the pandemic, according to the AP. The WHO has said the results of the mission to Wuhan, which concluded more than six weeks ago, would be ready in a few days.

Pandemic Prevention

While the search has become highly politicized, governments and scientists agree that deciphering the virus’s creation story is key to reducing the risk of future pandemics. The research — conducted by a team made up of both international 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.

The draft report as detailed by the AP provides more evidence for why the researchers consider a spillover from bats via another animal a more likely cause of the pandemic than two other controversial hypotheses explored: that the global contagion resulted from a laboratory accident or was introduced by contaminated food or its packaging, according to the AP.

Read more: Where Are We in Hunting for the Coronavirus’s Origin?

The U.S. government has questioned whether the WHO-convened experts were given enough access to reach a reliable conclusion. Top Biden administration officials on Sunday expressed concern about the way the WHO-China report was crafted, including the possibility that the Chinese government had a hand in writing it.

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.

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.

Beijing has suggested the virus may have arrived in China through refrigerated goods and has urged the WHO to carry out investigations in other countries.

–With assistance from Ros Krasny and Tony Czuczka.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]
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