Animals most likely source of COVID-19, leaked WHO report shows

The coronavirus likely jumped from bats to humans via another animal, according to a 123-page report from the World Health Organization expected to be released March 30, The New York Times reports. 

The origins report outlines several possible scenarios as to how the virus spread to humans. A scenario in which the virus spread directly from bats to humans is unlikely because the coronavirus seen in bats is evolutionarily distant from the one in humans, according to the report obtained by the Times and first reported by the Associated Press. 

The theory of the virus accidentally escaping from a Chinese laboratory is "extremely unlikely," the research team said in the report.

Some critics say Chinese officials, including scientists affiliated with the government, had too much oversight on the WHO's investigation, according to the Times. This, coupled with repeated delays of the report as Chinese officials tried to delay the WHO team's visit, has stirred concerns over transparency. 

These concerns prompted a small group of scientists in early March to call for a separate inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic's origin — one that doesn't rule out the possibility that the virus accidentally escaped from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, or from someone who became infected in the lab, according to the Times. 

Still, the WHO team has maintained the report is independent. 

To view the full New York Times article, click here.


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