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COVID-19 Unlikely’ to Have Come from a Lab-Experts

Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO team, which travelled to China in a live press briefing on Tuesday, said that there was no evidence to show that the virus was manufactured in a laboratory. He says their investigation shows that the virus came from a zoonotic source most likely a bat.
COVID-19 Virus

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The COVID-19 virus that has infected over 100 million people globally causing at least 2,327,231 deaths did not start in a laboratory, according to a report released by the World Health Organization.

The report shows that the virus is predominant in bats and as such probably came from bats but not the laboratory as has been suspected by many.  The findings are from a one-month epidemiological tracing mission in Wuhan, China to identify the source of the virus and how it was introduced to humans.     

Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO team, which travelled to China in a live press briefing on Tuesday, said that there was no evidence to show that the virus was manufactured in a laboratory. He says their investigation shows that the virus came from a zoonotic source most likely a bat.   

 

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Earlier on, it was believed that the disease could have originated from bats or pangolins. Other theories pointed towards the virus being manufactured in laboratory most likely the Wuhan Institute of Virology where a lot of work into coronavirus research is carried out. However, the UN health agency, says laboratories are not the source of the virus since no spills were reported.

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It is still unclear how humans might have been exposed to the virus. The report reveals three possible theories through, which humans might have been exposed to the virus. The first theory is that there was a direct link between humans and the disease-carrying animal, in this case, a bat. 

The second theory is that the virus was transported by an intermediary host, in this case, an animal that acted as a host of the virus before it was passed on to humans while the third is that the virus was transmitted through cold chain where an infected animal with the disease was kept with other animals at the Huanan wholesale seafood center, which is believed to be the location of one of the first transmission clusters of the disease.

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The findings from the investigations reveal that cases of the disease were reported from other markets before the disease was discovered at Huanan market. The first case in Huanan market is believed to have been reported on December 12, 2019, while some of the earliest cases that took place as early as December 8, 2019, took place at other markets. 

"We don't know the exact role of the Huanan market. We know that people who visited the market throughout December were infected but we do not know how the virus could have gotten to the market. However, we also know that there was spread of the disease to individuals traced to other markets that were not Huanan market. But we are working with the hypothesis that the virus entered the market through a visitor or killed wildlife products stored in the cold chain," Dr. Embarek said.

Findings from the study also reveal that the first infections in Wuhan are likely to have happened in the first two weeks of January 2020. The first cases of COVID-19 were reported as a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan by WHO on December 31, 2020.

  WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January after other countries began reporting cases. The disease was later declared a pandemic in March 2020. As studies continue to trace how the virus got into contact with humans, vaccinations against the disease are ongoing in many parts of the world.

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