WHO says lab leak ‘very unlikely’ as COVID source

TEHRAN, Feb. 10 (MNA) – During the visit to Wuhan, China, the WHO experts ruled out the possibility that Covid 19 had been leaked from the laboratory.

 World Health Organization held a press conference in Wuhan after spending four weeks in the city investigating the origins of the Coronavirus, Sputnik reported.

The original animal carrier of COVID-19 has not yet been identified, WHO said during a press conference in China's Wuhan on Tuesday.

According to Liang Wannian, a Chinese expert from Tsinghua University, bats and pangolins have been ruled out as the animal reservoir for COVID-19.

"Coronaviruses most highly related to SARS-CoV-2 are to be found in bats and pangolins, suggesting they could be the reservoir of the virus that causes COVID-19, on the basis of high similarity and sequences between the standard viruses and SARS-CoV-2. However, the viruses identified so far from neither of these species are sufficiently similar to SARS-CoV-2 to serve as a direct progenitor of the SARS-CoV-2," Liang said at a press conference of the World Health Organisation's expert team.

However, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert specializing in food safety, said the investigation to identify the origins of the coronavirus points to a natural reservoir in bats, although it’s unlikely that they were in Wuhan.  

There is no evidence of COVID-19 circulation in any animal species in China in late 2019, Embarek added.

It has not been possible to pinpoint any animal species as a potential reservoir for this disease, and they indicate that currently and also back in 2019 it does not look like there was the circulation of the virus in any animal species in the country," the expert said.

He also said that the COVID-19 outbreak was most likely caused by introduction through intermediary host species, while a laboratory leak is extremely unlikely to have triggered the outbreak.

According to Liang, there is no evidence of COVID-19 was circulating in Wuhan before December 2019, and that the death rate did not rise in Wuhan and other cities in the Hubei province from July- December 2019.

He also said that the COVID-19 outbreak was most likely caused by introduction through intermediary host species, while a laboratory leak is extremely unlikely to have triggered the outbreak.

RHM/PR

News Code 169749

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