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Coronavirus

Main findings of WHO investigation on COVID-19 origins in China released

Published: Updated:

The main findings of an international team of experts, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), which investigated the origins of the new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 have been released.

Reuters has seen the joint WHO-China report, which is due to be published on Tuesday.

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According to the report, likely sources of the outbreak were:

1) direct zoonotic (animal-to-human) spillover is considered to be a possible-to-likely pathway;
2) introduction through an intermediate animal host is considered to be a likely to very likely pathway
3) introduction through cold/food chain products is considered a possible pathway
4) introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway

Wuhan Food Market

As for Wuhan, where many early human cases were associated with the local Huanan seafood market, which also sold wildlife, the report said “a similar number of cases were associated with other markets and some were not associated with any market.”

“No firm conclusion therefore about the role of the Huanan market in the origin of the outbreak, or how the infection was introduced into the market, can currently be drawn,” the report said.

Was the virus circulating outside of China first?

“The findings suggest that circulation of SARS-CoV-2 preceded the initial detection of cases by several weeks. Some of the suspected positive samples were detected even earlier than the first case in Wuhan, suggesting the possibility of missed circulation in other countries.

So far, however, the quality of the studies is limited. Nonetheless, it is important to investigate these potential early events,” according to the report.

Read more: China’s first local COVID-19 cases since February was vaccinated: State media

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