All hypotheses remain open on the origins of COVID: WHO chief | Coronavirus pandemic News
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ remarks follow the WHO fact-finding mission, which could produce a synthesis report next week.
The head of the World Health Organization said all hypotheses about the origins of COVID-19 remain on the table, following a fact-finding mission to China.
The WHO mission to Wuhan, where the first coronavirus infections were identified in December 2019, failed to identify the source of the virus but poured cold water on the theory that it had leaked from city virology laboratory.
Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on Friday alongside Chef de Mission Peter Ben Embarek, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team had conducted a “very important scientific exercise under very significant circumstances. difficult “.
“Some questions have been raised as to whether certain assumptions have been ruled out. After discussing with some of the team, I want to confirm that all hypotheses remain open and require further analysis and study.
“Some of this work may lie outside the mandate and scope of this mission. We’ve always said this mission won’t find all the answers, but it added important information that brings us closer to understanding the origins of the virus.
Tedros said a summary report of the mission’s findings could be released as early as next week, followed by a final report “in the coming weeks”. Both would be made public.
The mission said its main assumptions are that the virus originated in a bat, although there are several possible scenarios for how it passed to humans, perhaps first by infecting a bat. other animal species.
The rejected laboratory leak theory
At a press conference in Wuhan on Tuesday, Ben Embarek denied the theory that a leak from a virology lab in Wuhan could have caused the pandemic.
“The hypothesis of the laboratory incident is extremely unlikely,” he said. It “is not in the hypotheses that we will propose for future studies”.
The previous US administration of President Donald Trump, who stepped down last month, said it believed the virus may have escaped from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
China has firmly denied this and said the Wuhan Institute of Virology does not study related viruses.
When asked why the mission didn’t believe a lab could have been the source, Ben Embarek told Friday’s briefing scientists at Wuhan labs told his team they didn’t have it. . If they had studied it before the outbreak, he said, it wouldn’t have been a secret.
“Usually, lab researchers who work and discover new viruses immediately publish their findings. This is common practice around the world, especially with interesting new viruses,” he said.