Lab origin of COVID-19 is ‘extremely unlikely,’ WHO report says Lab origin of COVID-19 is ‘extremely unlikely,’ WHO report says
(REUTERS) – A report released by the World Health Organization on Tuesday says it is considered “extremely unlikely” that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in... Lab origin of COVID-19 is ‘extremely unlikely,’ WHO report says

(REUTERS) – A report released by the World Health Organization on Tuesday says it is considered “extremely unlikely” that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a laboratory.

The report, from 17 Chinese and 17 foreign experts, did research on tracing the origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan City from Jan 14 to Feb 10.

According to the report, direct zoonotic spillover is “possible-to-likely,” and introduction through an intermediate host is “likely to very likely.”

WHO also says introduction through cold/food chain products is “possible,” however introduction through a laboratory incident is “extremely unlikely.”

The report also suggests the importance of establishing a globally integrated database to trace possible earlier COVID-19 cases, detect animal species likely to be intermediate hosts, and further learn about the role of cold chain and frozen products in the transmission of COVID-19.

Liang Wannian, head of the Chinese half of the expert group, said the report was concluded through the efforts of the Chinese and foreign experts based on scientific thought and evidence.

Liang said their work was the first step in the global origin tracing of COVID-19, with all conclusions and suggestions made from a global perspective. Liang added that the relevant research will not be limited to only one specific field in the future.

Chen Xu, China’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva, said the Chinese and foreign experts showed a scientific and open manner when working in Wuhan, and the governments at different levels showed the open, transparent and responsible attitude of China by providing necessary assistance for the experts.

Chen said the origin tracing of COVID-19 is a scientific task supposed to be carried out by scientists globally, and politicizing the origin tracing will severely impede global cooperation in the work. Chen also said it will just undermine global efforts to fight the pandemic, running counter to the global wish to pull together to combat COVID-19.

Benedict Rhodes

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