WHO team shares first details of probe into pandemic's origin: 3 things to know

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After spending time in hospitals, markets and laboratories in Wuhan, China, the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus shared findings from their initial data during a Feb. 9 news conference. 

Three early research findings:

1. COVID-19 may have been circulating both inside and outside of the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in December 2019, suggesting it may not have been the original source of the outbreak. "The market probably was a setting where that kind of spread could have happened easily, but that's not the whole story," said Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the investigation's international team lead. Dr. Liang Wannian, Chinese team lead of the WHO study, added that while there may have been missed cases in other regions, there's been no evidence of significant COVID-19 circulation outside of Wuhan before the December 2019 outbreak.

2. The virus "most likely" originated in animals before spreading to humans, the scientists said, emphasizing that more targeted research is needed to confirm the hypothesis and identify the intermediary animal host. 

3. The team said it was "extremely unlikely" that the virus was leaked from a Wuhan research lab as earlier theories have suggested, adding that the group will not recommend further investigation into the hypothesis. 

"In terms of understanding what happened in the early days of December 2019, did we change dramatically the picture we had beforehand? I don't think so," Dr. Ben Embarek said. "Did we improve our understanding? Did we add details to that story? Absolutely." 

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