Mysteries persist about the origins of Covid, the WHO report says

“We have not received any reports that really indicate that there is a laboratory leak that we believe is strong to follow,” said Marietjie Venter, team president and professor of medical virology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Efforts to investigate a laboratory leak met with resistance from team members from China, Russia and Brazil, who did not see the need for such investigations, the report said.

The report mentioned a number of studies on the potential role of animals in the coronavirus outbreak that had been published following previous work by the WHO team. For example, a investigation of a live animal market in Wuhan, China, indicated that there were several species known to be susceptible to the coronavirus in the fall of 2019.

Once the people linked to that market started getting sick, the police closed and disinfected the facility. making it more difficult for scientists to identify potential intermediate animal hosts for the virus.

The latest report said it was focusing on published and peer-reviewed studies, although it recognized a number of unpublished studies published online as “pre-print.” Among them were there two newspapers published this yearin which a team of scientists said the pandemic arose when a bat infected a wild animal, such as a raccoon dog, which was then sold to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Michael Worobey, a University of Arizona evolutionary biologist who helped carry out those studies, said it was unfortunate that the WHO team didn’t take a close look at the unpublished research.

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