An international expert mission to Wuhan has concluded it was very likely that Covid-19 first passed to humans from a bat through an intermediary animal, while all but ruling out a laboratory leak.
The intermediate host hypothesis is “likely to very likely”, while the theory that the virus escaped from a lab is “extremely unlikely”, according to the long-awaited report, which AFP obtained a copy of on Monday, before the official release.
The report from the international mission to Wuhan is surmise since the expert team left China over a month ago.
Delays in the publication of the findings, draft in collaboration with the team’s Chinese counterparts, is due to coordination and translation issues, even as a diplomatic tug-of-war raged in the background over the report’s contents.
During a lengthy press conference in Wuhan on February 9, the experts express their inability to draw any firm conclusions.
But they said they had worked to rank a number of hypotheses according to how likely they were.
COVID-19 Likely Jumped Missing Links
Experts believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the Covid-19 disease originally came from bats.
One theory postulates that the virus jumped directly from bats to humans. The final report determined that this scenario was “possible to likely”.
A more likely scenario, is the virus jumping from bats to another animal, which in turn infected humans.
“Although the closest related viruses is present in bats, the evolutionary distance between them and SARS-CoV-2 is however several decades,” .
“The scenario including introduction through an intermediary host postulates to be likely to very likely,” it said, although it did not conclude which animal may have first allowed the virus to jump to humans.
The report meanwhile did not rule out transmission through frozen food — Beijing’s favoured theory
Since the virus survives at freezing temperatures, “introduction via cold/ food chain products is considerably possible”.
Finally, the report examined the idea of a lab leak, for instance, the Wuhan Institute of Virology Donald Trump’s administration.
It states fact that there is no record of any virus resembling SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019.
And also stressed high safety levels at the labs in Wuhan.
“A laboratory origin of the pandemic considers its findings to be extremely unlikely,” .
By Onome F.E