Members of WHO team sit in a car arriving at Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
World Health Organization experts on Wednesday inspected a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan, a major virus research laboratory in China’s central city of Wuhan, seeking clues to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some US officials said it could have been the source of the coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown no signs of slowing down even as vaccines are rolled out, with known infections surging past 103 million, more than 2.2 million dead and the global economy devastated.
A WHO team searching for clues about the pandemic's origins went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of the most-watched stops on a politically sensitive trip to the central Chinese city where the virus was first detected.
Driving through thick morning mist, the team, led by WHO virus expert Peter Ben Embarek, arrived at the heavily guarded Wuhan Institute of Virology at about 9:30am.
“I am looking forward to a very productive day, meeting the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked,” team member Peter Daszak, who is the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, said from his car as it drove in.
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The institute has been at the centre of a number of conspiracy theories that claim a laboratory leak caused the city’s first coronavirus outbreak at the end of 2019.
Most scientists reject the hypothesis, but some speculate that a virus captured from the wild could have figured in experiments at the lab to test the risks of a human spillover and then escaped via an infected staff member.
Some scientists have called for China to release details of all coronavirus samples studied at the lab, to see which most closely resembles SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory disease.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has collected extensive virus samples, leading to unproven allegations that it may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into the surrounding community. China has strongly denied that possibility and has promoted unproven theories
The head of the World Health Organization-led team in the central Chinese city of Wuhan probing the origins of COVID-19 said on Tuesday that cold chain transmission of the virus is a possibility and warrants further investigation.
The WHO team also concluded the theory of a lab experiment gone wrong was “extremely unlikely,” while introducing new avenues of inquiry, chiming with China’s view that it may have originated overseas or been spread by frozen foods.
The statement by the World Health Organisation team that the coronavirus pandemic did not start in Wuhan is revelatory, to say the least. For months, American rhetoric, led by Donald Trump, had been portraying China in a bad light, saying it was
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