The World Health Organization has concluded that it was very likely that Covid-19 virus first passed to humans from a bat through an intermediary animal.
According to the long-awaited report, which AFP obtained a copy of on Monday, before the official release, the intermediate host hypothesis were deemed “likely to very likely”, while the theory that the virus escaped from a lab was seen as “extremely unlikely”.
In a lengthy press conference in Wuhan on February 9 at the end of the mission, the experts and their Chinese counterparts made clear that they could not yet draw any firm conclusions. But they said they had worked to rank a number of hypotheses according to how likely they were.
As per experts, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the Covid-19 disease originally came from bats. One of the examined theories says that the virus jumped directly from bats to humans. The final report determined that this scenario was “possible to likely”. The report found that the virus was jumped from bats to another animal that directly infected humans.
“Although the closest related viruses have been found in bats, the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, suggesting a missing link,” the report said.
“The scenario including introduction through an intermediary host was considered to be likely to very likely,” it said, however, the report did not conclude which animal may have first allowed the virus to jump to humans.
The report for the meantime did not rule out transmission through frozen food — Beijing’s favored theory, since the virus appeared to be able survive at freezing temperatures, saying that “introduction via cold/ food chain products is considered possible”.
“A laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely,” it said.