It's “extremely unlikely” that coronavirus could have leaked from a Wuhan lab, according to a WHO expert.
A joint report published by Chinese experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that contrary to popular belief, Covid-19 did not originate in the seafood market of Huanan nor did it come from bats and pangolins. On top of that, they say it is “extremely unlikely” that the virus came from a Wuhan lab leak.
WHO and experts from China have been working together in an attempt to trace the origins of the coronavirus and have since publicly shared their findings. The team composed of 17 Chinese experts plus 17 international experts from 10 different countries as they conducted a 28-day research in Wuhan.
According to them, samples from bats and pangolins in Wuhan do not provide ample evidence that the coronavirus came from them. Moreover, antibody testing of 11,000 samples and swab testing of 12,000 samples from different animals (such as chickens, cows, ducks, pigs, and others) both turned out negative.
In a press conference, food safety expert Peter Ben Embarek, who led the WHO team that went to China, shared that there is a possibility that the virus may have been transmitted from frozen food.
“We know that the virus can persist and survive in conditions that are found in these cold and frozen environments. But we don’t really understand if the virus can then transmit to humans.”
WHO team member and disease ecologist Peter Daszak specifically mentioned frozen wild meat as a possible virus source.
“There were definitely frozen meat and seafood sheltered at Huanan, some of it probably farmed wildlife,” he said. “But there was a lot else going on at the market as well”
“We are keeping every option on the table and trying to keep an open mind about it,” Daszak also added.
At the moment, experts are also looking at a virus close to SARS-CoV-2 in other Asian countries such as Thailand, Japan, and Cambodia.
Daszak pointed out:
“We’ve done a lot of work in China and if you map that back it starts to point towards the border and we know that there is very little surveillance on the other side in the whole region of South East Asia. China is a very big place and South East Asia is a very big place. The supply chains to the Huanan seafood market were extensive, they were coming in from other countries, they were coming in from various parts of China, so to really trace that back it’s going to take some work.”
“It’s important to make sure we are not geopolitically bound, as the virus passing from animals to the Huanan market could take a long path involving movement cross borders and travels before reaching the Huanan market,” Embarek remarked.
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