The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has advanced that This Tuesday the final report on the conclusions of the mission will be published of international experts in China to find out the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
At a press conference, Tedros explained that the report has been sent this Monday to the Member States of the WHO so that they can analyze it for the meeting they will hold this Tuesday to discuss its content and the “next steps” to be taken in the investigation of the origins of COVID-19.
After this meeting with the international leaders, the document will be posted on the WHO website and, subsequently, a press conference will be held to detail their findings. As I advance, Tedros has pointed out that “all hypotheses are on the table and that justify carrying out new studies “.
The Associated Press agency has published a draft of the report on Monday, which concludes that the most likely scenario is that the transmission of the virus from bats to humans occurred through a third animal. Also, it is established that the theory that he escaped from a laboratory is “extremely unlikely”. In the same way, the document states that “currently no firm conclusion can be drawn about the role of the Huanan market in the origin of the outbreak, nor about how the infection entered the market.”
If it is confirmed that this draft is the final report, the conclusions of the team of experts on the ground in China are similar to those presented at a press conference from Wuhan after completing their mission.
In this appearance, at the beginning of February, Peter Ben Embarek, specialist in Food Safety and Animal Diseases of the WHO and chair of the investigation team in Wuhan, explained that “Four hypotheses” are being considered about how the COVID-19 virus jumped to humans. In the first place, the direct jump from an animal to a human; the second, of the bat and through intermediate animal species, with a second animal involved that is “potentially closer to humans in which the virus adapts easily and jumps to humans.”
The third theory, which was also advocated by Liang Wannian, head of the COVID-19 expert panel at the Chinese Ministry of Health, is the possibility that frozen products act as a transmission surface for the virus to the human population or food-related transmission routes.
“Our initial findings suggest that the intermediate animal pathway is the most likely and the one that will require more more specific studies, “said Embarek, while acknowledging the validity that the virus could have been transmitted through the cold chain.
“We continue to work with the hypothesis that could have been introduced by an infected person and then spread to other people in the market. But it could also be through the introduction of a product. Among the most interesting products were frozen wild farm animals. Some of these species are known to be susceptible to this type of virus, “added Embarek.
The team arrived in Wuhan on January 14, considered the epicenter city of the pandemic, and, after two weeks of quarantine, visited places such as the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where the first known group of infections occurred, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which investigates various types of coronavirus. According to their conclusions, it is not yet possible to determine how the COVID-19 virus was introduced in the Huanan market, but they assure that it was already circulating in other parts of the city at that time, at least since October or November.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.