WHO mission to China fails to find source of coronavirus

WHO team at a news conference in Wuhan

(R-L) Marion Koopmans and Peter Ben Embarek, members of the World Health Organization (WHO) staff tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), Liang Wannian, head of knowledgeable panel on COVID-19 response at China’s National Health Commission, and Chinese National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng attend the WHO-China joint research information convention at a resort in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

The World Health Organization mission to China to uncover the origins of the coronavirus has failed to establish the source of the pandemic however the staff on Tuesday dominated out the Wuhan lab-leak principle propagated by Donald Trump.

Experts imagine the illness — which has killed greater than 2.3 million folks worldwide — originated in bats and will have been transmitted to people by way of one other mammal.

WHO international knowledgeable Peter Ben Embarek stated figuring out the animal pathway stays a “work in progress,” and the absence of bats within the Wuhan space dimmed the chance of direct transmission.

It was “most likely” to have come from an middleman species, he stated. He additionally backed up China’s place that there was no proof of “large outbreaks” in Wuhan earlier than December when the primary official instances had been recorded.

Animals similar to rabbits, ferrets and bamboo rats might be the middleman, one other staff member Marion Koopmans added, saying they is likely to be an “entry point” for additional investigations.

Liang Wannian, head of the China aspect of the joint mission, stated animal transmission remained the probably route, however “the reservoir hosts remain to be identified”.

Ben Embarek quashed the speculation {that a} leak from a virology lab in Wuhan could have triggered the pandemic.

“The laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely,” he stated. It “is not in the hypotheses that we will suggest for future studies”.

The mission was a diplomatically knotty one — presaged by fears of a whitewash — with the US demanding a “robust” probe and China firing again with a warning not to “politicize” the investigation.

The WHO consultants spent a month in China together with two weeks in quarantine.

Liang stated research confirmed the virus might be “carried long-distance on cold chain products”, showing to nudge in direction of the speculation the virus was imported — an concept that has abounded in China in latest months.

Ben Embarek stated “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 and under which conditions this could happen,” he stated.

Beijing is determined to defang criticism of its dealing with of the chaotic early phases of the outbreak.

It has tried to refocus consideration on its dealing with and restoration whereas floating the speculation that the virus emerged overseas and was introduced into China possibly via frozen foods.

Koopmans stated the following steps may embody trying to find “earlier circulation” of the virus.

Reporters had been largely saved at arms’ size from the consultants throughout their closely-monitored go to, however snippets of their findings crept out by way of Twitter and interviews.

Questions have been requested concerning the relevance of some of their actions to their said intention of discovering the virus source — together with a go to to a propaganda exhibition celebrating China’s restoration from the pandemic.

The group spent simply an hour on the seafood market the place many of the primary reported clusters of infections emerged over a yr in the past.

They additionally appeared to spend a number of days inside their resort, receiving visits from varied Chinese officers with out venturing out into the town.

Research was carried out on the Wuhan virology institute the place they spent almost 4 hours. They met with Chinese scientists there together with Shi Zhengli, one of China’s main consultants on bat coronaviruses and a deputy director of the Wuhan lab.

Scientists on the laboratory conduct analysis on some of the world’s most harmful illnesses, together with strains of bat coronaviruses related to Covid-19.

Former US president Donald Trump ceaselessly repeated a controversial principle {that a} lab leak might have been the source of the pandemic.

For extra information concerning the novel coronavirus click on here.

What you need to know about Coronavirus.

For extra information on COVID-19, name the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 native 1149/1150.

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