Caixin
Mar 31, 2021 05:53 AM
CHINA

WHO Calls for Further Studies on Origins of Covid-19

What’s new: The World Health Organization (WHO) called for further studies of the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan in Central China’s Hubei province, the United Nations agency said Tuesday.

“All hypotheses remain on the table,” an international WHO team said in a report on its field visit to Wuhan Jan. 14 to Feb. 10. The team was made up of 17 Chinese and 17 international experts.

“We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “No single research trip can provide all the answers.”

The WHO team visited several laboratories in Wuhan and considered the possibility that the virus was passed to the human population as a result of a laboratory incident, but it found no evidence to support that theory.

In a virtual news briefing Tuesday, Ghebreyesus said he’s ready to deploy additional missions involving specialist experts for further investigation.

The background: The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan in January 2020 and later spread around the world. The disease has infected more than 127 million people and killed 2.8 million worldwide. WHO emphasized the need to track down the origins of the virus to better understand the emergence of new pathogens and possible exposures.

China has been under pressure from numerous countries calling for an investigation into the pandemic’s origins. This culminated in a WHO resolution for a probe backed by more than 100 countries and supported by China. The early cases in Wuhan were linked to a seafood market, but scientists have never found evidence whether the virus passed directly from animals to humans or through an intermediary host.

At a press conference following the investigation in Wuhan, WHO official Peter Ben Embarek said the pandemic was “extremely unlikely” to have resulted from a lab-related incident.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

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