/ 10 February 2021

Trouble with nailing down COVID’s origin story

The group of scientists in China as part of a World Health Organisation inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus said late yesterday that viruses similar to COVID-19 can be detected in many animals, but they haven’t found the direct link between animal-to-human transmission. Long story short, bats and pangolins in China (along with other animals) have coronaviruses – but not the exact strain that created the global crisis. With no ‘natural reservoir’ of COVID-19 in an animal, the experts believe there was animal-to-human transmission of a virus at some point. That version then evolved and spread between humans. As for the ‘leak from a Wuhan lab’ theory – “extremely unlikely,” said Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO team’s leader. “The possible path from whatever original animal species all the way through to the Huanan market could have taken a very long and convoluted path also involving movements across borders,” he said.

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