Covid 'unlikely' to have been started by Chinese lab leak, WHO taskforce finds

The task force investigating the cause of the Covid outbreak in the ground-zero city of Wuhan claims a leak from a laboratory is “extremely unlikely”.

The World Health Organization’s study of the origins of the coronavirus now says the virus was likely transmitted from bats to humans by another animal, Reuters reports.

The full report is not expected to be released until at least Tuesday, but leaked results suggest that three coronavirus laboratories in Wuhan were “well managed.”

It is further reported that the facilities had “high quality levels of biosafety” and that there were no reports of similar illnesses among staff in the months leading up to the pandemic outbreak.

The employees also did not test positive for Covid in the subsequent blood test for antibodies, according to the report.

“In light of the above, laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered extremely unlikely,” it said.

Many questions remain unanswered about the virus that triggered the pandemic. The team has now proposed further research on bats and psoriasis in China as well as in Southeast Asia.

Testing of other wildlife – including civets, minks, and ferrets – that are known to be infected with the virus has also been recommended.

Many early human cases were linked to Wuhan’s Huanan Fish Market, which also sold wildlife, “but a similar number of cases were linked to other markets and some were unrelated to any market,” it said Report.

Investigators in protective clothing during a visit to the Hubei Animal Disease Control and Prevention Center

Patients being treated in a hospital in Wuhan

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus confirmed receipt of the report but declined to provide details and stated at a Geneva press conference: “All the hypotheses are on the table and warrant full and further studies.”

The United States expects the WHO-led investigation to require further investigation into the virus, possibly including a visit to China again, a senior US official told reporters last week.

The probe had previously been plagued by delays over access concerns and the Beijing-US dispute.

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