BEIJING (AP) – A joint study by the WHO and China on the origin of COVID-19 says the transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario. Associated Press:
The findings were generally as expected, leaving many questions unanswered. The team suggested further research in each area, except for the laboratory leak hypothesis.
The publication of the report has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to divert conclusions to prevent China from blaming the epidemic. A World Health Organization official said late last week that he expected to be ready “in the next few days.”
The AP received on Monday what seemed to be an almost final version, one of the diplomats from Geneva, a WTO member. It was unclear whether the report could be amended before it was published. The diplomat declined to comment because they had no right to publish before publication.
The researchers listed four possible scenarios. They concluded that transmission through the second animal is likely to be very likely. They assessed the direct spread from bats to humans as possible, saying that “cold chain” spread through food is possible but unlikely.
The closest relative of the COVID-19 virus has been found in bats known to carry coronaviruses. However, the report states that “the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses, SARS-CoV-2, is estimated to be several decades, suggesting that there is no link.”
It was said that very similar viruses were found in pangolins, but it was also stated that mink and cats are susceptible to the COVID virus, which suggests that they may be carriers.
The report is based on a visit by a team of international WHO experts from mid-January to mid-February in China, where COVID-19 was first discovered in China.
WTO expert Peter Ben Embarek, who led the mission, said on Friday that the report had been finalized, “checked” and translated.
“I expect that the whole process will be over in the next few days, we will be able to publish it,” he said.
Associated Press writers contributed to Victoria Milko Jakarta, Indonesia’s Jamie Amy Keith. The AP Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.