The Word Health Organization (WHO) have said that coronavirus is “extremely unlikely” to have come from a laboratory related incident.
The global health leaders believe that the virus could have passed from animals to humans, they said that Sars-CoV-2 “may have originated from Zoonotic transmission,” the WHO have concluded.
Their early findings suggest that the virus was introduced to humans through an “intermediary host,” meaning it jumped from a specie, to a second specie then onto humans.
Dr Peter Ben Embarek, leader of the WHO team investigating the origins of the virus in Wuhan, said: “The findings suggest lab incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population.”
Investigators looked at four hypotheses when examining the possible origins of the virus:
- Direct transmission from an animal species into the human population.
- The introduction of the virus from an intermediary host species through another animal species “potentially closer to humans” where the virus could adapt, circulate and then jump to humans.
- The food chain, in particular the potential for frozen products acting as a “surface” for the transmission of the virus.
- A lab-related incident.
Dr Embarek said, “Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host is the most likely pathway and one that we will require more studies and more specific targeted research.”
He was asked over the possibility of a laboratory incident, to which he replied with, “nowhere previously was this particular virus research, or identified or known.
“There had been no publication, no reports of this virus or another virus extremely closely linked to this being worked with in any other laboratory in the world.”
Dr Embarek said, that investigators examined staff monitoring programmes and audits in research labs.
He added, “We looked for examples at the Wuhan Institute for Virology and the state of that laboratory and it was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place.”
On Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market he said, “Substantial transmission of Sars-CoV-2 infection occurred in the population of Wuhan in December 2019, with most cases reported in the second half of that month.
“Many early reported cases were associated with Huanan market, nevertheless transmission was occurring elsewhere in Wuhan at the same time.
“It is not possible on the basis of the current epidemiological information to determine how Sars-CoV-2 was introduced into the market.”
He added, “Huanan market may not be the first place that had the outbreak and it is not the place that witnessed the earliest case either.
“The onset date of the earliest case in this joint research was December 8 2019.
“The earliest case which has an association with Huanan seafood market was December 12.
“The December 8 case had no relationship and no association with Huanan seafood market.”
Dr Embarek said, “We don’t know the exact role of the Huanan market, we know there was spread among people who work and live and visited the market throughout December.
“How it was introduced and spread within the market is still unknown.”
He added, “The market probably was a setting where that kind of spread-out happens easily but it is not the whole story, there was also spread among individuals who were not linked to this market, they were linked to other markets, no markets, so the picture is not clear in that respect.”