sunny.png
Saturday December 4th, 2021 5:28PM

WHO team: Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WUHAN, China (AP) — The coronavirus most likely first appeared in humans after jumping from an animal, a team of international and Chinese scientists looking for the origins of COVID-19 said Tuesday, saying an alternate theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab was unlikely.

A closely watched visit by World Health Organization experts to Wuhan — the Chinese city where the first coronavirus cases were discovered — did not dramatically change the current understanding of the early days of the pandemic, said Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the WHO mission.

But it did “add details to that story,” he said at a news conference as the group wrapped up a four-week visit to the city.

And it allowed the joint Chinese-WHO team to further explore the lab leak theory — which former U.S. President Donald Trump and officials from his administration had put forward without evidence — and decide it was unlikely. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is home to many different virus samples, leading to allegations that it may have been the source of the original outbreak, whether on purpose or accidentally.

Embarek, a WHO food safety and animal disease expert, said experts now consider the possibility of such a leak so improbable that it will not be suggested as an avenue of future study. But another team member, Danish scientist Thea Koelsen Fischer, told reporters that team members could not rule out the possibility of further investigation and new leads.

China had already strongly rejected the possibility of a leak and has promoted other theories. The Chinese and foreign experts considered several ideas for how the disease first ended up in humans, leading to a pandemic that has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

Embarek said the initial findings suggest the most likely pathway the virus followed was from a bat to another animal and then to humans, adding that would require further research.

“The findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population," he said.

Asked why, Embarek said accidental releases are extremely rare and that the team's review of the Wuhan institute's lab operations indicated it would be hard for anything to escape from it.

He also noted that there were no reports of this virus in any lab anywhere before the pandemic. Liang Wannian, the head of the Chinese side, also emphasized that, saying there was no sample of it in the Wuhan institute.

The mission was intended to be an initial step in the process of understanding the origins of the virus, which scientists have posited may have passed to humans through a wild animal, such as a pangolin or bamboo rat. Transmission directly from bats to humans or through the trade in frozen food products are also possibilities, Embarek said.

The WHO team's visit is politically sensitive for Beijing, which is concerned about being blamed for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. An AP investigation has found that the Chinese government put limits on research into the outbreak and ordered scientists not to speak to reporters.

Still, one member of the WHO team, British-born zoologist Peter Daszak, told The Associated Press last week that they enjoyed a greater level of openness than they had anticipated, and that they were granted full access to all sites and personnel they requested.

Koelsen Fischer said she did not get to see the raw data and had to rely on an analysis of the data that was presented to her. But she said that would be true in most countries.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. looked forward to seeing the report and the underlying data from the WHO investigation.

The team — which includes experts from 10 countries who arrived on Jan. 14 — visited the Huanan Seafood Market, the site of an early cluster of cases in late 2019.

Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist on the team, said that some animals at the market were susceptible or suspected to be susceptible to the virus, including rabbits and bamboo rats. And some could be traced to farms or traders in regions that are home to the bats that carry the closest related virus to the one that causes COVID-19.

She said the next step would be to look more closely at farms.

Liang, the head of the Chinese team, said the virus also appeared to have been spreading in parts of the city other than the market, so it remains possible that the virus originated elsewhere.

The team found no evidence that the disease was spreading widely any earlier than the initial outbreak in the second half of December 2019.

“We haven’t been able to fully do the research, but there is no indication there were clusters before what we saw happen in the later part of December in Wuhan,” Liang said.

The visit by the WHO team took months to negotiate. China only agreed to it amid international pressure at the WHO's World Health Assembly meeting last May, and Beijing has continued to resist calls for a strictly independent investigation.

While China has weathered some localized resurgences of infection since getting the outbreak under control last year, life in Wuhan itself has largely returned to normal.

___

Associated Press writers Ken Moritsugu in Beijing and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Businesses start to rethink Myanmar as coup ignites protests
Businesses are just beginning to reassess their investments in Myanmar after the military seized power, detaining civilian leaders and sparking mass protests
7:01AM ( 10 minutes ago )
WHO team: Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab
A World Health Organization team has concluded that the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal
7:01AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Mary Wilson, longest-reigning original Supreme, dies at 76
Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning original Supreme, has died at 76 years old
6:56AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
WHO says coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab
A World Health Organization expert says the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and most probably jumped to humans via an intermediary species
6:09AM ( 1 hour ago )
Himalayan glacier disaster highlights climate change risks
After examining satellite images, scientists believe that last weekend's glacier disaster in northern India is linked to a landslide and an avalanche
5:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
New boost for minority businesses in underserved communities
Small minority-owned businesses have often struggled to gain access to capital and other tools to grow
5:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
California uses ZIP codes, outreach to boost vaccine equity
Counties in California and other places in the U.S. are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic
1:39AM ( 5 hours ago )
Tokyo Olympics have yet another problem: It's President Mori
The postponed Tokyo Olympics have yet another problem besides the pandemic
1:11AM ( 6 hours ago )
Likely cause of Kobe Bryant helicopter crash to be announced
Federal safety officials are expected to reveal what likely caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in Southern California last year
1:03AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Nissan stays in red ink amid pandemic, Japan criminal trial
Japanese automaker Nissan has reported losses for the fiscal third quarter, as its sales were hit by the coronavirus pandemic and its brand image continued to take a beating from a high-profile Tokyo trial
4:20AM ( 2 hours ago )
German exports down 9.3% last year, biggest fall since 2009
Official data show that Germany’s exports plunged by 9.3% last year as the coronavirus pandemic dragged down demand, the biggest drop since the financial crisis in 2009
4:11AM ( 3 hours ago )
Global stocks mixed on optimism over recovery, stimulus
Global stock markets are mixed after another record-setting rally on Wall Street
4:09AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Probe focuses on chicken conveyer in deaths at Georgia plant
Federal investigators say problems with the operation of a conveyer belt system appear to be the cause of a liquid nitrogen release that killed six workers at a Georgia chicken processing plant
8:56PM ( 10 hours ago )
28 garment workers killed in flooded factory in Morocco
A medical official has told Moroccan state television at least 28 workers died when heavy rains flooded an illegal garment factory in Tangier
8:23PM ( 10 hours ago )
Tesla buys $1.5B in Bitcoin, will accept as payment soon
Holders of Bitcoin may be able to cash in some of their investment in the digital currency for a brand new electric car
6:29PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Mary Wilson, longest-reigning original Supreme, dies at 76
Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning original Supreme, has died at 76 years old
6:56AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Police in Myanmar crack down on crowds defying protest ban
Police are cracking down on demonstrators opposing Myanmar’s military coup, firing warning shots and shooting water cannons to disperse crowds that have taken to the streets in defiance of rules making protests illegal
6:45AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Mystery metal monolith vanishes from ancient Turkish site
A mysterious metal monolith has disappeared four days after it was discovered
6:41AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Tokyo Olympics face another problem because of its president
The postponed Tokyo Olympics have yet another problem besides the pandemic
6:39AM ( 33 minutes ago )
The Latest: Belgium to give AZ vaccines only to under-55s
Belgium will use the 443,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine the country will receive over the course of February to vaccinate people under the age of 55
6:36AM ( 36 minutes ago )