After an investigation in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus originated, the World Health Organization says the COVID-19 virus was unlikely to have escaped from a lab and more likely was “more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal,” the AP reports. The experts, however, were unable to draw conclusions after the 12-day probe.
Said WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek: “Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research. However, the findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population.”
The Washington Post adds: “Speaking at a news conference for the first time on Tuesday, leaders of the combined mission representing Chinese and international researchers said they found evidence the virus was spreading in Wuhan during December 2019 in parallel both inside and outside the Huanan Seafood Market, indicating that the market was not the original source. But it’s still unclear whether the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, jumped from bats — its likely reservoir — to humans directly or through an intermediary host, the team leaders said. … Both the Chinese and international researchers suggested that the virus may have been spread through cold chain food packaging, a theory that the Chinese government and its state media have increasingly elevated as part of Beijing’s argument that covid-19 may not have originated in China.”