The World Health Organization team currently in China to investigate the origins of the pandemic that has killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide visited Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in December 2019.
Several theories have been considered about how the disease first reached humans.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology in central China is one of the country’s leading study centers and has collected numerous virus samples over the years. The facility’s proximity to the original epicenter of the pandemic has led to allegations that it may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into the surrounding environment.
China has vehemently rejected this possibility and has promoted other theories for the origins of the virus, sometimes even trying to attribute its origin to other countries through the national media.
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,” said WHO food safety and animal disease expert Peter Ben Embarek at a press conference Tuesday. This hypothesis will not be suggested as an avenue for future study, he added.
The WHO team consists of experts from 10 nations and arrived from Singapore to Wuhan on Jan. 14, where they spent their first two weeks. The visit had been postponed by Chinese authorities.
According to an AP investigation, the Chinese government also allegedly imposed limits on the team’s research into the origin of the coronavirus.
The mission is a first step in delving into the origins of the virus, which is believed to have originated in bats before being passed to humans through another species of wild animal, such as a pangolin or bamboo rat.