Saturday, 18 September, 2021


Animal carrier 'very likely' started pandemic — World Health Organization coronavirus report

WHO report says animals likeliest origin of Covid-19, minimises lab hypothesis WHO says virus origins report will be released on Tuesday
Patty Aguilar | 30 March, 2021, 23:25

The research was aimed at galvanizing efforts to trace the origin of the virus that touched off the worst pandemic in more than a century, as well as its route of transmission to humans and the possible role of an intermediate animal host.

"The team also visited several laboratories in Wuhan and considered the possibility that the virus entered the human population as a result of a laboratory incident", Tedros said.

The W.H.O.'s findings don't provide a lot of new information but it will give the reasoning behind their hypothesis.

Nor had they tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in subsequent blood screening for antibodies, the report said.

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

A team of scientists from the UK, Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, the U.S. and Vietnam travelled to China in January, working with experts there for four weeks.

A statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's web site after the release pointed to China's cooperation with World Health Organization and said the Chinese side of the team "offered necessary facilitation for the team's work, fully demonstrating its openness, transparency and responsible attitude".

"I'd also would like to inquire as to the extent in which the people who were on that group had access directly to the data that they would need to make a determination", he said.

The report comes a little over a year after the coronavirus pandemic was declared and conforms with Chinese arguments that the virus causing COVID-19 did not come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. "In the first study, animals, including four Chinese pangolins and 25 Malayan pangolins, had been obtained during anti-smuggling operations by the Guangdong customs in March and August 2019".

The lab leak theory has been promoted by some officials from the Trump administration, including Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in comments to CNN last week.

"No firm conclusion therefore about the role of the Huanan market in the origin of the outbreak, or how the infection was introduced into the market, can now be drawn", it says.

The report was jointly written by 17 worldwide experts, selected by World Health Organization and approved by China, and an equal number of Chinese scientists.

The report also discusses evidence - supporting or conflicting - for two other possibilities.

Topping the list was transmission from bats through another animal, which they said was likely to very likely.

An interim report was published earlier this year and while most experts expected inconclusive findings - establishing the origins of diseases usually takes years, if not decades - the lack of a "smoking gun" was a disappointment. "And we have pointed to many additional studies that should be conducted from now on".

The study found that virus spread to humans from food shipments was possible, but not likely. While it is possible an infected animal contaminated the packaging and was brought to Wuhan which then infected humans, the report said the probability is very low.

Scientists have concluded that a leak from a laboratory is the least likely hypothesis, after visiting several facilities.

Arguments for "Although rare, laboratory accidents do happen", the report said. A second diplomat confirmed getting the report too.

Dr Tedros said the team had difficulty accessing raw data and called for "more timely and comprehensive data sharing" in the future.

Dr Tedros said all "hypotheses remain on the table".

The report noted that animal products, including everything from bamboo rats to deer, often frozen, were sold at the market, as were live crocodiles.

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