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Study examines the origin of COVID-19

Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 31, 2021

In a new 120 page document, the World Health Organization outlines its theories into how the coronavirus started spreading around the globe. The WHO says it could have been as early as October 2019 before being detected in Wuhan, China.

"Don't forget that Wuhan was a major international hub at that time with direct flights every day to most parts of the world," said Peter Ben Embarek, WHO Scientist.

Whether it started in Wuhan or elsewhere in China will need further research, as will the origin of the virus. The report gives four possible sources, however:

  • Direct transmission from an animal
  • Transmission from an intermediate host animal, infected by another animal like a bat
  • The virus spread through frozen food
  • Accidental leak from a laboratory

"Since this was not the key or main focus of the studies, it does not receive the same depth of attention and work as the other hypotheses," said Embarek.

But, the WHO says of the four possible pathways, the lab theory was ranked "extremely unlikely." While there is no evidence to support the theory, the Chief of the WHO has called for further investigation.

Embarek said it is not impossible, but not the one the organization will start initially looking into. The WHO says it will continue to look into all evidence and ideas about how the coronavirus started.