Mystery as WHO says Covid did NOT start in Wuhan wet market after all and lab leak is ‘extremely unlikely’

MYSTERY looms as the World Health Organisation dismissed two of the leading theories on the origins of Covid after they mission to China.

Both suggestions that the virus could have crossed to humans at the Huanan Seafood Market, or escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were dismissed in a lengthy joint press conference.

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WHO scientists appeared alongside their Chinese counterparts as they also confirmed they have ruled out the Wuhan wet market as the virus' original origin and dismissed the lab leak as "extremely unlikely".

 

WHO's ten-person team are on the ground in China as they attempt to piece together where Covid came from – with the virus going on to kill 2.2million worldwide.

The expert team arrived in China on January 14 and they have now finished their research in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first confirmed to have emerged on December 31, 2019.

The press conference started after a 20 minute delay as the world anxiously awaited news.

Professor Liang Wennian, the leader of the Chinese team, started off the conference and almost completely dismissed the wet market as an origin.

He said the team believed the virus originated in animals – likely bats or pangolins -but the intermediate hosts that allowed it to jump to humans are "yet to be identified".

Wennian ruled out the Huanan Seafood Market as an origin source as he appeared to suggest Covid originated somewhere else other than Wuhan.

He also said no bats in the wild in China had been found to be carrying viruses that may have mutated in Covid-19.

The virus could have been circulating in other regions before it was identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, the expert explained.

Prof Wennian said: "As most emerging virus originate from animals requires deep analysis of evolution of viruses in animal reservoir.

"Generally speaking a virus causing pandemic must be highly adaptive to human environment, each step driven by natural selection."

The WHO team agreed with his assessment, with Peter Ben Embarek adding: "We can also agree we have found evidence of wider circulation in December not just cluster outbreak in market, also circulated outside market."

It appears the WHO briefing as left more questions than answers – throwing the original story out of the window, and as of yet failing to acknowledge the theory of the lab leak.

Members of the team had sought to rein in expectations about the mission, with zoologist Peter Daszak saying last week that one of their aims was to "identify the next steps to fill in the gaps".

Another team member, infectious disease expert Dominic Dwyer, said it would probably take years to fully understand the origins of Covid-19.



The Communist Party-regime has long been accused of covering up its origins – and has been continuing to attempt to deflect blame.

While the natural cause was the prime investigation, the WHO admitted last week they were keeping an open mind of a theory of a lab leak.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was known to be experimenting with chimeric viruses and holding bat-borne diseases – and its been suggested an accidental security breach could have led to the outbreak.

And last week the scientists even visited the lab to meet with China's "Bat Woman" scientist Dr Shi Zhengli, dubbed as such for her extensive research of bat based viruses.

Questions have loomed over the Institute since the start of the pandemic, and scientists there have repeatedly denied any allegations of a leak.

WHO's visit has been subject to controversy as the team were initially barred from entry to China – an incident  which Communist authorities dubbed a "misunderstanding".

The WHO mission is being tightly controlled and stage managed by China – which even saw the scientists visits a propaganda museum celebrating Wuhan's fight against Covid.

The organisation itself is also facing questions about how it handled the early days of the pandemic, being accused by the US of being "China-centric".

WIV is highest-security lab of its kind in China, and is just a stone's throw from the outbreak's ground zero – the Huanan Seafood Market.

MPs have also been pressuring the British government to investigate after a top US official revealed the Trump White House considered a leak the "most credible" origin of the virus.

And last month, new docs released by the US revealed scientists in Wuhan fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in late 2019 – months before the pandemic began to ravage the world.

is highest-security lab of its kind in China, and is just a stone's throw from the outbreak's ground zero – the Huanan Seafood Market.

MPs have also been pressuring the British government to investigate after a top US official revealed the Trump White House considered a leak the "most credible" origin of the virus.

And last month, new docs revealed scientists in Wuhan fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in late 2019 – months before the pandemic began to ravage the world.


What do we know about the Wuhan Institure of Virology?

THE WUHAN Institute of Virology is the highest security lab of its kind in all of China – and can be found right at the heart of the origins of the global pandemic.

Various theories have been swirling about the lab, which is headed up by Chinese scientist Dr Shi Zhengli, known as “Bat Woman”.

Most scientists do not believe the virus leaked from the lab, and the lab itself has categorically denied the claims.

The lab specialised in bat-borne viruses and had been carrying out experiences on them since 2015.

Airlocks, full body suits, and chemical showers are required before entering and leaving the lab – the first in China to be accredited with biosafety level 4 (BSL-4).

BSL-4 labs are the only places in the world where scientists can study diseases that have no cure.

Scientists from the lab even tested mysterious virus which killed three miners 1,000 miles away in Yunnan province back in 2012.

It has been suggested this fatal mystery bug may have been the true origin of Covid-19.

Experts at the lab also engineered a new type of hybrid 'super-virus' that can infect humans in 2015, according to medical journal Nature Medicine

Despite fears surrounding the research, the study was designed to show the risk of viruses carried by bats which could be transmitted to humans.

There is no suggestion the facility's 2015 work is linked to the pandemic.

The lab was also recruiting new scientists to probe coronaviruses in bats just seven days before the outbreak.

China has began tightening security around its biolabs with President Xi Jinping saying it was a “national security” issue to improve scientific safety at a meeting last February.

Documents already revealed Beijing downplayed the bug to "protect its image", and there have been repeated allegations that China has manipulated its death and case figures.

Meanwhile, some 300 coronavirus studies by the Wuhan lab have been erased, raising more questions over China's attempts to stall investigators.

China has since mostly returned to normal – not recording any sigicnant Covid outbreaks since last March.

It has a total of 89,616 cases and 4,636 deaths, just a fraction of those recorded in Western nations, and was the only economy to actually grow in 2020 amid global financial turmoil.

WIV top scientist Dr Shi said in December she would welcome a visit to her lab – a comment the organisation later distanced itself from.

"I would personally welcome any form of visit, based on an open, transparent, trusting, reliable and reasonable dialogue," she said.

"But the specific plan is not decided by me."

WIV's press office however than later claimed Prof Shi was only speaking in a "personal capacity" and her statement had "not been approved", reported the BBC.

/ct

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