Published: Tue, March 30, 2021
Medical | By

Leaked WHO report points to animals as source of the pandemic

Leaked WHO report points to animals as source of the pandemic

The agency said the report deemed it was "likely to very likely" the virus began infecting humans through an intermediary species and "possible to likely" the virus jumped directly from bats to humans.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently told CNN they have "real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into the report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it".

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

Accusations of China withholding informtion to the worldwide community have been going on since the outbreak started and over the severity of Covid.

The theory of the virus spreading through cold-chain transmission via frozen products was deemed possible but not likely, further raising questions about the politicisation of the study since China has long pushed the theory which was previous dismissed by the World Health Organization and some Western experts.

"However, I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough". "Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions". The experts' team said that further study is needed regarding the origin of this epidemic.

As part of their mission, the team of experts visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology, whose level 4 biosafety laboratory was established as a former Franco-Chinese partnership in 2014.

It said that such laboratory accidents are rare, that the labs in Wuhan were well-managed and there is no record of viruses closely related to the coronavirus in any laboratory before December 2019.

The mission was never meant to identify the exact natural source of the virus, an endeavour that typically takes years.

Back then, the World Health Organization reported 118,000 cases across 114 countries, urging policymakers to take aggressive action in order to change the course of the pandemic. "And we have pointed to many additional studies that should be conducted from now on".

The report did not rule out the hypothesis, privileged by Beijing, of transmission through frozen food, since the virus appears capable of surviving at freezing temperatures and "introduction via cold/food chain products is considered possible".

Still, the report noted that the Wuhan CDC laboratory moved in early December to a location near the Huanan market, and "such moves can be disruptive for the operations of any laboratory". 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.

In a press conference held Tuesday following the release of the report, Dr. Thea Fisher said the investigation is the first step in a long journey into discovering the origins of the virus.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States (USA) is home to 28,652,953 cases of COVID-19 infections, followed by Brazil and India.

The Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his concerns on Tuesday and said, "I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing".

The pandemic has killed almost 2.8 million people worldwide since it first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, with several countries now battling new waves of infection and being forced to take drastic measures.

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

The market was an early suspect because some stalls sold a range of unusual animals, and some wondered if they had brought the new virus to Wuhan.

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