Did the coronavirus originate in a laboratory accident in Wuhan after all? The question is still unanswered. New statements raise new questions. The WHO is demanding more data from China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on the international community not to misuse the search for the origin of the coronavirus for political purposes. Rapid international cooperation is essential to better respond to pathogens with pandemic potential in the future, the WHO said Thursday evening.
The search for the origins of the pathogen should not be an exercise in finger-pointing or finger-pointing. In doing so, WHO is pressuring China to provide access to key data from the first 2019 Corona cases for further research.
The origin of the virus remains unknown
It remains unknown how the coronavirus was transmitted to humans. To get to the bottom of this, WHO had a team led by Dane Peter Embarek investigate the origin of the virus in China. The mission in January and February had been politically sensitive. China is doing everything it can to avoid being pilloried as a scapegoat for the pandemic.
It took six months before the international experts were allowed to arrive. Seventeen international and 17 Chinese scientists were involved. In the end, a report was published in Geneva in March. In it, the experts stressed the need for further studies on the origin of the coronavirus from wildlife, as well as possible virus circulation outside China, before the first cases were detected in Wuhan.
WHO: ‘All hypotheses remain on the table’
At the time, researchers called the theory that the virus could be related to a laboratory incident “extremely unlikely” – in line with the Chinese government.
The U.S. and 13 other countries then expressed doubts about the study. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the time, “As far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table.” He said the report was an important beginning, but not the end. “We have not yet found the origin of the virus.”
Lab worker infected by bat at work?
Statements by Embarek carried by Danish TV2 now appear to contradict the passage on the laboratory theory in the investigation report: That a laboratory worker had become infected while taking samples from bats in the field was one of the likely hypotheses, he said as part of a TV documentary released Thursday, according to the station.
Several of the different theories could also overlap, such as the laboratory theory with the one that transmission occurred directly from a bat to a human.
Embark stressed, according to TV2, that WHO experts had found no direct evidence that the coronavirus outbreak was linked to research on bats in laboratories in Wuhan. However, they had found several things that should be investigated further, he said.