However the workforce of international consultants did agree the virus seemingly jumped from bats to an unknown animal species, earlier than being transmitted to people.
It additionally concluded that it was “extraordinarily unlikely” that the virus got here from a high-security lab within the central metropolis of Wuhan, showing to quash numerous theories linking town’s virology institute to the outbreak.
Enormous world strain and scrutiny trailed the workforce throughout its probe in China, which mission member Peter Daszak described as working “flat out underneath essentially the most politically charged setting doable.”
After a mission that lasted almost a month, listed here are 5 issues we nonetheless do not know in regards to the virus’ origin:
The animal supply Consultants mentioned exams have been finished on tens of 1000’s of samples from wild, farmed and home animals throughout China — however none of them contained the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
Nonetheless, Dutch virologist and WHO workforce member Marion Koopmans mentioned that species extra vulnerable to the virus — together with bamboo rats, badgers and rabbits — have been offered at Wuhan’s Huanan market, the location of an early virus cluster, and may very well be an entry level for trace-back investigations.
British zoologist Daszak additionally mentioned after the briefing that new bat viruses found in Thailand and Cambodia, “shifts our focus to Southeast Asia”.
“I feel someday we’ll discover that (reservoir), it’d take a while… however it is going to be on the market unquestionably,” he instructed reporters.
Uncooked information Concern has been expressed in regards to the scientists’ entry to information in China, amid accusations that Beijing downplayed the preliminary severity of the outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019.
Danish epidemiologist and workforce member Thea Kolsen Fischer mentioned after the briefing that the WHO workforce weren’t given uncooked information, however as an alternative relied on earlier evaluation by Chinese language scientists.
Typically, she mentioned, it might be ordinary for outsiders to get entry to “aggregated information”.
WHO workforce members mentioned they have been granted full entry to the websites and people they requested to go to.
Chilly chain transmission Beijing has repeatedly floated the speculation that the virus was dropped at China by packaging on chilly chain merchandise like imported frozen seafood, linking these to current home outbreaks.
WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan had beforehand mentioned that there’s “no proof that meals or the meals chain is collaborating in transmission”.
However in China the WHO mission appeared to offer some weight to the speculation.
The top of the Chinese language aspect of the mission, Liang Wannian, mentioned the virus can journey lengthy distances on the floor of chilly chain merchandise, and environmental samples from Huanan market — which offered frozen wild animals and seafood — confirmed “widespread contamination” of the virus.
However WHO workforce lead Peter Ben Embarek cautioned that it’s nonetheless unclear whether or not the virus can transmit to people from contaminated chilly chain surfaces.
Origin exterior China? Beijing has repeatedly known as for the WHO to launch an origin tracing mission within the US, and international ministry officers have drawn consideration to conspiracy theories about virus leaks from an American navy germ analysis lab.
Desperate to deflect worldwide criticism over its preliminary dealing with of the outbreak, China has additionally amplified research suggesting some Covid-19 instances emerged in Italy and different international locations in late 2019.
However in releasing the report’s conclusions, Koopmans mentioned these research “don’t present full proof of earlier circulation” exterior China in early December.
Nonetheless, she conceded that consultants “ought to actually go and seek for proof of earlier circulation.”
What subsequent? Koopmans mentioned farms supplying wild animals to Wuhan’s Huanan market deserve additional analysis.
Along with sampling extra wild animal reservoirs — particularly bats — in and out of doors China, Ben Embarek urged re-testing samples utilizing “new approaches” to blood exams and searching for extra early instances that went undetected in Wuhan in December 2019.
China, in the meantime, is eager that the following stage of the virus origin investigation takes place abroad.