A joint report of WHO experts and other Chinese concluded that the transmission of the Coronavirus to humans through an animal is a “probable to very likely” hypothesis, in exchange for a “complete exclusion” of the hypothesis that the virus was leaked due to an accident in a laboratory.
According to the final version of the report, of which Agence France-Presse obtained a copy, the experts stressed “the necessity of conducting other investigations that include a greater geographical scope” in China and abroad, given what has been written about the role of farm animals as a mediator in transmitting emerging diseases.
The report of experts, who some said did not have enough room to work freely during the four-week period of their stay in Wuhan, confirms the preliminary conclusions they made on February 9 in the Chinese city where the virus first appeared.
Experts suggest the general theory of the natural transmission of the virus from its animal source, which is most likely bats, to humans through an intermediate animal that has not yet been determined.
The report considers that the hypothesis of a direct transmission from the source animal (or reservoir) to humans “is possible to likely. Experts did not rule out the theory of transmission via frozen meat, which is the theory favored by Beijing, considering that this scenario is “possible”.
The report recommends continuing studies on the basis of these three hypotheses, and on the other hand excludes the possibility that the virus was transmitted to humans as a result of an accident in a laboratory.
The administration of former US President Donald Trump had accused the Wuhan Virus Institute, which is conducting research on dangerous pathogens, of causing the virus to leak, intentionally or unintentionally.
In the report, the experts indicated that they had not studied the premise of intentional leakage, and considered that leakage due to a laboratory accident was “completely excluded”.
The mission tasked with determining how the virus is transmitted to humans, whose work is extremely important to enhance the chances of responding to any new pandemic the world may witness, faced difficulties in reaching China, which has been reluctant to allow these multidisciplinary global experts, from epidemics to zoology, to enter its territory.
In their report, the experts concluded that supply chain studies of Huanan Market (and other Wuhan markets) did not lead to “evidence of infected animals, but supply chain analysis provided information” useful for subsequent studies with specific objectives, especially in surrounding areas.
Experts advocate “not neglecting animal source products coming from regions outside Southeast Asia”.
The report recommends that investigations be conducted “in a wider area and in a greater number of countries.”
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