Ever since the first COVID case was announced, people have been puzzled as to where it actually originated from. With some thinking that it was inadvertently leaked from a lab in Wuhan and others believing that it came from a bat, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to take the time to investigate the origin of the virus. After traveling to Wuhan, China, WHO came to conclusions that have shifted our knowledge and prior beliefs as to where the pandemic truly came from.
After the organization’s time in Wuhan, the group concluded that the virus most likely did not originate from a lab; rather, it came from an animal and made its way into humans. However, the current understanding of the pandemic is fairly indifferent as it was during its beginnings, but the investigation did certainly add details to help scientists further understand how the virus may have developed.
“The findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population,” Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the WHO mission, explained. Additionally, Embarek explained that the team reviewed the Wuhan Institute’s lab and found that it would be difficult for anything to escape from it.
As China had already strongly rejected the idea that the virus was a leak, former President Donald Trump was reluctant to deem the theory impossible. After being able to conduct extensive research on the alleged origin of the virus, Embarek stated that the group’s findings suggest that the most likely pathway the virus followed was from a bat to another animal, then to humans, also stating that this theory would require more research.
As for the specifics regarding the theory, Embarek stated that transmission directly from bats to humans or through the trade-in frozen food products are robust possibilities that would require further research to support.
Surprisingly, research also suggests that the virus may not have originated in Wuhan after all.
“The possible path from whatever original animal species all the way through to the Hunan market could have taken a very long and convoluted path involving also movements across borders,” Embarek stated in a media briefing.
Embarek believes that investigations regarding the coronavirus’s origins point to a natural reservoir in bats and that it is unlikely that they were in China. In fact, Lian Wannian, head of China’s expert panel on the outbreak, stated that there was evidence of COVID infections that could have come before the first known case by several weeks.
“This suggests that we cannot rule out that it was circulating in other regions and the circulation was unreported,” Wannian stated in the briefing.
Regardless, the origin of COVID-19 is still a mystery, and it is quite unlikely that we will be able to fully understand where the pandemic came from soon. Until then, the main priority is controlling the virus, focusing on distributing the vaccines, and keeping an eye out for new strains. With the current knowledge and resources, it may even take a few years to fully understand the enigma of where the virus came from and how it spread.