A joint WHO-China study on the origins of Covid-19 says that the virus was transmitted from bats to humans through another animal. A lab leak scenario is “extremely unlikely.” It was stated in draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.
The report provided in-depth detail on the reasoning behind the team’s conclusions.
"The report’s release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions to prevent blame for the pandemic falling on China. A World Health Organization official said late last week that he expected it would be ready for release “in the next few days,” the message reads.
The closest relative of the virus that causes Covid-19 has been found in bats, which are known to carry coronaviruses. However, the report says that “the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, suggesting a missing link.”
It said highly similar viruses have been found in pangolins, but also noted that mink and cats are susceptible to the Covid virus, which suggests they could be carriers.
The draft report is inconclusive on whether the outbreak started at a Wuhan seafood market that had one of the earliest clusters of cases in December 2019.
The discovery of other cases before the Huanan market outbreak suggests it may have started elsewhere. But the report notes there could have been milder cases that went undetected and that could be a link between the market and earlier cases.
“No firm conclusion therefore about the role of the Huanan market in the origin of the outbreak, or how the infection was introduced into the market, can currently be drawn,” the report says.
Scientists tracing the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic believe they’ve identified a possible transmission source: China’s thriving wildlife trade.