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WHO sticks with COVID-19 bat origin story

Peter Ben Embarek of the WHO team holds a chart showing pathways of transmission of the virus during a news conference in Wuhan, China, in February. Associated Press/Photo by Ng Han Guan (file)

WHO sticks with COVID-19 bat origin story

The World Health Organization team that visited Wuhan, China, in January and February to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus is expected to release its report on Tuesday. In a draft obtained by the Associated Press, the researchers, including Chinese scientists, said it is “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a lab. The document describes four scenarios and labels transmission from bats through another animal as the most likely.

How reliable is the report? U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told CNN he was concerned about the team’s methodology, including Beijing’s involvement. Multiple delays held up the investigation and report, and some suspect Chinese officials were interfering with results. Last year, China repeatedly prevented researchers from accessing areas and data associated with COVID-19. The country rebuffed all suggestions that it mishandled the early stages of the pandemic.

Dig Deeper: Read Julie Borg’s report in Beginnings on the origins of COVID-19.

Charissa Koh

Charissa is a WORLD reporter who often writes about poverty-fighting and criminal justice. She resides with her family in Atlanta.


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