WHO team says 'extremely unlikely' for Covid-19 virus to have leaked from Wuhan lab in China

They said it is likely the virus first jumped from a bat to another animal, and then to humans.

Kayla Wong | February 10, 2021, 12:06 PM

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A World Health Organization (WHO) team who went to China to investigate the origins of the Covid-19 virus concluded that it is "extremely unlikely" for it to have been leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, AP reported.

Accidental release of virus from lab unlikely

Peter Ben Embarek, a food safety and animal disease expert and leader of the WHO team, said initial findings show that the virus most likely jumped from a bat to another animal and then to humans.

However, he said the virus also could have jumped directly from bats to humans

He added that accidental releases from labs are extremely rare, and that the mission's review of the Wuhan Institute of Virology's operations showed it would be difficult for any virus to escape from it.

The theory that the virus had been leaked from the Wuhan lab, where infectious diseases were being studied, was promoted by former United States President Donald Trump, who said he had "seen evidence" linking the lab to the release of the virus without disclosing said evidence.

Granted full access to requested sites and personnel

Liang Wannian, the head of the Chinese team collaborating with the WHO team, also stressed that no sample of the Covid-19 virus was stored in the lab.

China had vehemently refuted the claim and promoted other origin theories, one of which claimed the virus might have came from the Southeast Asian region.

During the mission's four-week visit to China, they visited the Wuhan lab, the Huanan seafood market where infections were first reported, two Wuhan hospitals where patients were treated without doctors knowing about the virus, and an animal disease centre, Bloomberg reported.

New York-based zoologist Peter Daszak, who was part of the WHO team, told AP they were granted full access to all sites and personnel they requested, which was something they had not expected.

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