Coronavirus: WHO report rejects thesis of laboratory accident

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“Extremely unlikely” – WHO report rejects thesis of laboratory accident

Peter Ben Embarek, head of the WHO team, which traveled to China in January, shows a graphic of the transmission routes of the coronavirus at a press conference in February Peter Ben Embarek, head of the WHO team, which traveled to China in January, shows a graphic of the transmission routes of the coronavirus at a press conference in February

Peter Ben Embarek, head of the WHO team, which traveled to China in January, shows a graphic of the transmission routes of the coronavirus at a press conference in February

Quelle: dpa/Ng Han Guan

In January, experts traveled to Wuhan on behalf of the World Health Organization to research the origin of Sars-CoV-2. The result: the virus “very likely” spread from a bat to humans via an intermediate host.

Ein a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) sees a transmission of the coronavirus from an intermediate host animal as the trigger of Covid-19. According to the WHO report presented in Geneva on Monday, the pathogen was “likely to very likely” from the bat to another animal and from there finally to humans.

The thesis that the virus escaped from a laboratory, however, was described as “extremely unlikely”. This assumption about the origin of the pandemic was expressed by former US President Donald Trump and the Hamburg physicist Roland Wiesendanger, among others.

The researchers listed four scenarios in order of their likelihood. They therefore came to the conclusion that transmission via a second species was likely to very likely. They rated direct transmission from bats to humans as likely, and they considered transmission via frozen or chilled food to be possible, but not likely.

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Passionate researchers: Özlem Türeci (left) and Uğur Şahin

The experts were unable to make a final judgment on whether the pandemic actually began in a market in the city of Wuhan. However, cases were also found in the market before the major outbreak, which leads the experts to assume that the pandemic began elsewhere. There may have been milder courses of the Covid-19 disease caused by the virus, which then led to infections on the market, the report says.

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International experts in various disciplines such as zoology and epidemiology searched for the origin of the pandemic for several weeks in January. To do this, they traveled to Wuhan, where the first corona infections were registered in people at the end of 2019. The virus quickly spread around the world. In the meantime, more than 127 million infections have been detected; more than 2.78 million infected people died.

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The origin of the pandemic

The WHO mission started with some delay and the report was not presented. The research into the origin of the pandemic is politically sensitive. Under the new President Joe Biden, the USA have repeatedly expressed fears that the WHO report would not be able to disclose all findings and indications. Beijing, on the other hand, emphasizes that the WHO mission in Wuhan was only possible thanks to China’s scientific cooperation.

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