science

Coronavirus ‘very likely’ to have passed to humans from bats via unknown animal, WHO report says


Coronavirus is “very likely” to have first passed from bats to humans via an intermediate animal, according to a World Health Organisation report on the origins of Covid-19.

A draft version of the study, which was obtained by the Associated Press, also concludes that it is “extremely unlikely” the virus was leaked from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019.

It had been claimed that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were experimenting with a virus genetically similar to Sars-CoV-2 before it was leaked into the surrounding community.

The report, which has yet to be publicly released, is based largely on a visit by a WHO team of international experts and scientists to Wuhan from mid-January to mid-February.

According to the team’s findings, evidence suggests Sars-CoV-2 emerged naturally in bats before passing to humans via an unconfirmed intermediary animal host – a scenario that was deemed to be “likely to very likely” by the scientists.



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