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WHO researchers: Coronavirus likely not from lab

Peter Ben Embarek (right) and his Chinese counterpart, Liang Wannian, after a news conference in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday Associated Press/Photo by Ng Han Guan

WHO researchers: Coronavirus likely not from lab

A team of scientists from 10 countries is visiting Wuhan, China, to study the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chinese–World Health Organization joint group on Tuesday said the virus likely did not originate from a lab.

How do they know? The Wuhan Institute of Virology, in the city with the first COVID-19 outbreak, holds many virus samples, including coronaviruses. The scientists explored the theory that the virus leaked from there, but WHO team leader Peter Ben Embarek said a review of the lab indicated it would be difficult for a pathogen to escape. He also said neither this lab nor any others reported having this particular coronavirus before the pandemic. Another member of the team, Danish scientist Thea Koelson Fischer, told reporters they could not rule out the possibility of new leads. Embarek said initial findings supported the theory that the virus originated in bats and jumped to another animal and then to humans.

Dig deeper: Read Julie Borg’s report in Beginnings about possible origins of COVID-19.

Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is a former assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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