The Chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) clarified that it has not ruled out any theories about the origin of COVID-19.
An expert team from the global health organization had recently visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which has been the root of many speculations about the origin of the virus. The comments from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus comes after the team rejected suggestions that the coronavirus may have leaked from the lab.
All avenues of research remain open, Mr. Ghebreyesus said in a briefing. The investigation “has added important information that takes us closer to understanding the origins of the virus,” particularly in the early days of the pandemic.
The expert team, comprising 17 Chinese and 17 international experts, looked for clues to understand how the COVID-19 virus spread explosively in Wuhan before causing the worst global pandemic in more than a century. Experts believe that finding the source will inform efforts to stop the virus, and other pathogens with pandemic potential, spilling over into human populations.
The lab-leak theory was “extremely unlikely” and required no further study, according to Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food-safety scientist. The coronavirus most likely jumped to humans through an animal host or frozen wildlife products, he said, and those possibilities should continue to be probed. Following this announcement America’s Biden Administration had expressed their doubts about the report and decided to scrutinize it.
The highly anticipated mission followed months of negotiation with a defensive China to facilitate and cooperate with the probe. Stung by criticism that it initially covered up the extent of the crisis Chinese state media and officials have promoted the theory that the virus didn’t start in China, but was brought in.
The WHO has faced criticism since the outbreak of the pandemic that it’s been too deferential to China. Former US President Donald Trump advanced the theory that the virus might have escaped from the high-security virology lab in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.