BEIJING — A joint WHO-China examine on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to people by means of one other animal is the almost certainly state of affairs and {that a} lab leak is “extraordinarily unlikely,” in accordance with a draft copy obtained by The Related Press.

The findings had been largely as anticipated and left many questions unanswered, however the report offered in-depth element on the reasoning behind the staff’s conclusions. The researchers proposed additional analysis in each space besides the lab leak speculation.

The report’s launch has been repeatedly delayed, elevating questions on whether or not the Chinese language facet was making an attempt to skew the conclusions to stop blame for the pandemic falling on China. A World Well being Group official mentioned late final week that he anticipated it will be prepared for launch “within the subsequent few days.”

The AP acquired what gave the impression to be a near-final model on Monday from a Geneva-based diplomat from a WHO-member nation. It wasn’t clear whether or not the report may nonetheless be modified previous to its launch. The diplomat didn’t wish to be recognized as a result of they weren’t approved to launch it forward of publication.

The researchers listed 4 eventualities so as of probability for the emergence of the virus named SARS-CoV-2. Topping the record was transmission by means of a second animal, which they mentioned was prone to very probably. They evaluated direct unfold from bats to people as probably, and mentioned that unfold by means of “cold-chain” meals merchandise was potential however unlikely.

The closest relative of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been present in bats, that are recognized to hold coronaviruses. Nonetheless, the report says that “the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be a number of many years, suggesting a lacking hyperlink.”

It mentioned extremely related viruses have been present in pangolins, but additionally famous that mink and cats are prone to the COVID virus, which suggests they may very well be carriers.

The report relies largely on a go to by a WHO staff of worldwide consultants to Wuhan, the Chinese language metropolis the place COVID-19 was first detected, from mid-January to mid-February.

Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO knowledgeable who led the Wuhan mission, mentioned Friday that the report had been finalized and was being fact-checked and translated.

“I count on that within the subsequent few days, that complete course of might be accomplished and we can launch it publicly,” he mentioned.

The draft report is inconclusive on whether or not the outbreak began at a Wuhan seafood market that had one of many earliest clusters of instances in December 2019.

The invention of different instances earlier than the Huanan market outbreak suggests it could have began elsewhere. However the report notes there may have been milder instances that went undetected and that may very well be a hyperlink between the market and earlier instances.

“No agency conclusion due to this fact concerning the position of the Huanan market within the origin of the outbreak, or how the an infection was launched into the market, can presently be drawn,” the report says.

Because the pandemic unfold globally, China discovered samples of the virus on the packaging of frozen meals coming into the nation and, in some instances, have tracked localized outbreaks to them.

The report mentioned that the chilly chain, as it’s recognized, is usually a driver of long-distance virus unfold however was skeptical it may have triggered the outbreak. The report says the chance is decrease than by means of human-to-human respiratory an infection, and most consultants agree.

“Whereas there may be some proof for potential reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2 by means of dealing with of imported contaminated frozen merchandise in China for the reason that preliminary pandemic wave, this may be extraordinary in 2019 the place the virus was not broadly circulating,” the examine mentioned.


Related Press writers Victoria Milko in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Jamey Keaten contributed. The AP Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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