No evidence that Covid-19 came from animals, says former head of China CDC

No evidence that Covid-19 came from animals, says former head of China CDC
Passengers wearing protective face masks ride a crowded subway on New Year's Eve in Wuhan, China, 31 December 2020. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY

LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) - There is no evidence that the Covid-causing virus came from animals, the former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.

George Gao, who was speaking at a London summit on preparing for pandemics, was the head of the agency when Covid-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

“Even now, people think some animals are the host or reservoir,” said Gao. “Cut a long story short, there is no evidence which animals (were) where the virus comes (from).”

The origins of the Covid-19 pandemic remain unknown, with criticism that China has thwarted efforts to find out more. The Chinese government has said it has always supported all efforts to investigate the source.

The World Health Organization has said that all hypotheses for the origins of Covid-19 remain on the table, including that the virus is linked to a high-security laboratory for the study of dangerous pathogens in Wuhan.

China denies any such link.

WHO has also said that the evidence so far points towards the virus coming from animals, likely bats.

Data from the early days of the pandemic was uploaded to a global database by Chinese scientists last month.

It included genetic sequences found in more than 1,000 environmental and animal samples taken in January 2020 at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan.

The data showed that DNA from multiple animal species – including raccoon dogs – was present in environmental samples that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, suggesting that they were “the most likely conduits” of the disease, according to a team of international researchers.

(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby in London; Additional reporting by Natalie Grover in London and Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra and Mike Harrison)


"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]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.