Scientists assembled by the World Health Organization to investigate the origin of the CoVID-19 pandemic have announced their preliminary findings, which pretty clearly rule out the most popular of conspiracy theories.
Interestingly, in their view, the first traced cases, those associated with the Wuhan market in December 2019, most likely do not represent the source of the outbreak. At the same time, the possibility of a laboratory accident resulting in the virus getting out is extremely unlikely, and they speculate that the virus did not circulate locally for too long before the first cases were recorded. The international team of specialists began their investigation in mid-January this year, traveling to various locations in China, including the infamous Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, where the then-mysterious pneumonia cases were reported in December 2019. The research was conducted in collaboration with local Chinese scientists as part of an agreement with the local government, without whose approval it would be impossible for the researchers to enter the country at all.
And now, at a press conference held in Wuhan, the researchers have shared the initial results of their work. As we mentioned, their view is that this is not a lab virus, which certainly won’t end the wave of criticism coming down on the Chinese for the origins of the pandemic – especially since there is evidence of silencing of local journalists and scientists who tried to warn of the threat after the first cases were detected, as well as delayed sharing of information, which led to the situation where we only learned a month after the first cases that the disease was spreading by human-to-human transmission.
Even to this day, Chinese representatives are still behaving in ways that limit the efforts of scientists and making statements that suggest that the pandemic has broken out elsewhere in the world, although WHO scientists assure us that this time they got as much information as they asked for. As for the aforementioned Huanan market, the researchers gathered a lot of evidence to suggest that the first cases reported here were not at all the first cases of Covid-19 in humans at all – in their view, the diversity of samples of people tested here was too large for the site to be an original transmission event. The team also tracked data from Wuhan Hospital, which shows no increase in flu-like illnesses before December 2019, so we’re not dealing with unrecognized SARS-CoV-2 circulation in Wuhan during late 2019.
Another part of the investigation was a “visit” to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which many believed to be the source of the pandemic, according to some even due to a deliberate act rather than an accident. There were no traces at the site to support such a theory, and on top of that, research ruled out the possibility of an artificial origin of the virus. Thus, the most likely theory is that SARS-CoV-2 jumped from bats to an intermediate host, perhaps scaly bats, and from there to humans. However, scientists are also studying another, namely the possibility of introduction of the virus through frozen food, because as we already know the virus is resistant to low temperatures for a short time. More information on the topic is expected to be known in some time.