WUHAN, China - A World Health Organization expert says the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and most probably jumped to humans via an intermediary species.
WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek made the assessment in a summation Tuesday of a WHO team’s investigation into the possible origins of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first cases were discovered in December 2019.
China has strongly denied the possibility of a leak from the lab and has promoted unproven theories that the virus may have originated elsewhere before being brought to Wuhan, including possibly on imported frozen food packaging.
The visit by the WHO team took months to negotiate after China only agreed to it amid massive international pressure at the World Health Assembly meeting last May, and Beijing has continued to deny calls for a strictly independent investigation.
Chinese authorities have kept a tight hold on information about the possible causes of the pandemic that has now sickened more than 105 million people and killed more than 2.2 million worldwide.