WHO: It is extremely unlikely that the coronavirus came from a laboratory

Marion Koopmans - Peter Ben EmbarekPhoto: AP Photo / Ng Han Guan

Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) believe it is “extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, as some have claimed.

“The hypothesis that there was an incident in a laboratory is an extremely unlikely explanation for how the virus started spreading among the population,” Peter Ben Embarek, who heads the WHO’s expert group in Wuhan, China, noted.

“This is therefore not a hypothesis we would recommend for further studies,” he added.

Through its investigations in Wuhan over the past four weeks, the WHO expert group has not found the virus’s source. They have also not found evidence that the virus was in circulation in Wuhan before December 2019.

“What we have seen is that it was a typical start to of a budding outbreak. It started with a couple of sporadic cases in early December. 

“Then it developed into minor outbreaks, where the disease began to spread in so-called “clusters.” That is what happened here in the market in Wuhan,” Embarek said when the experts presented their preliminary findings on Tuesday.

No evidence of outbreaks prior to December of 2019

Embarek noted that they had found evidence of many outbreaks in December, about the same period as the outbreak in the seafood market in Wuhan. 

According to experts, there may have been other known outbreaks of COVID-19 in other Chinese regions before Wuhan.

However, they had not found evidence of any outbreaks before December 2019, which is considered the month when the virus was first detected.

It is believed that the virus spread from bats or shellfish, but experts have not yet found the source. Bats are considered less likely, according to Embarek, who says that the group has therefore tried to see which other animal species may have carried the virus.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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