All hypotheses still on the table over COVID-19's origins, WHO chief says

The WHO mission spent two weeks in China investigating COVID-19's origins
The WHO mission spent two weeks in China investigating COVID-19's origins Copyright Ng Han Guan/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Michael Daventry
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The World Health Organisation's director-general's remarks come after the team visiting China suggested a leak from a lab was 'very unlikely'


“All hypotheses” into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic are still open and need to be studied further, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s remarks came after a team of WHO inspectors appeared to reject the theory the virus had escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

“Some questions have been raised as to whether some hypotheses have been discarded,” the WHO chief told a briefing on Friday.

“Having spoken with some members of the team, I wish to confirm that all hypotheses remain open and require further analysis and study.”

The team that visited Wuhan said before leaving China on Tuesday that it was “very unlikely” that the virus had escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Tedros continued on Friday: “We have also said that this mission would not find all the answers, but it has added important information that takes us closer to understanding the origins of the virus.”

A summary report from the team of scientists that travelled to China would be published next week, he added.

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WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusAP Photo

The theory that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was floated often by former US President Donald Trump during his final year in office.

But WHO team leader Peter Ben Embarek had said on Tuesday that it was “very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place”.

In addition to the virology institute, the WHO mission spent two weeks in China visiting hospitals, the and laboratories at facilities including the Wuhan Center for Disease Control.

There were also visits to markets including the Huanan Seaford Market that was linked to many of the first cases.

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