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Alarming development over origins of Covid-19: 'Key data missing'

A new investigation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has determined the origins of Covid-19, a virus which has killed more than six million people since 2020, is inconclusive because key data from China is missing.

In the new report released on Thursday from the WHO, a panel said the data that was available indicated the coronavirus which has triggered the pandemic most likely came from animals, potentially bats.

However, WHO's expert group believes "key pieces of data" which are needed to explain how the pandemic began over two years ago are still missing.

According to Reuters, in February, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote to the Chinese government twice in pursuit of more information, however only a limited amount was received.

Marion Koopmans, right, and Peter Ben Embarek, center, of the World Health Organization team say farewell to their Chinese counterpart Liang Wannian, left, after a WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan, Chin
The World Health Organisation say further research is needed to determine how Covid-19 first began. Source: AP Photo

A number of top WHO insiders were frustrated by China following the initial outbreak, despite the organisation's praise for President Xi Jinping, the Associated Press found.

The insiders were upset that China had sought to clamp down on research into the origins of Covid-19.

Scientists believe it is important to determine the cause of the disease to prevent future outbreaks.

However, the team on the expert panel said it is almost impossible to do so due to the lack of data.

Pictured is WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote to the Chinese government twice this year in hopes of getting more information. Source: EPA

Maria Van Kerkhove, a senior WHO official who is on the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) panel warned the longer it takes to find the source, the harder it will come.

"We owe it to ourselves, we owe to the millions of people who died and the billions of people who were infected," she said.

In its new report, WHO said the experts were given access to data that included unpublished blood samples from more than 40,000 people in Wuhan in 2019.

The samples were tested for Covid-19 antibodies. None were found, suggesting the virus was not spreading widely before it was first identified in late December that year.

The report stated the lack of data from China resulted in the report being inconclusive. Source: AP
The report stated the lack of data from China resulted in the report being inconclusive. Source: AP

No new information to support controversial theory

The report determined there was no new information to support the theory that Covid was a result of an incident at a laboratory.

The scientists said the group would “remain open to any and all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow for comprehensive testing of all reasonable hypotheses.”

One member of the advisory group said scientists needed to be open-minded enough to investigate the possibility of a lab leak.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, sits closed in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on  Jan. 21, 2020.
Nearly two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the origin of the virus tormenting the world remains shrouded in mystery. Some scientists believe it started at the market. Source: AP

The theory that Covid-19 was leaked from a lad has become highly politicised, with people like former US president Donald Trump repeatedly making unfounded claims Covid started in a lab.

WHO’s expert scientists said numerous avenues of research were needed, including studies evaluating the role of wild animals, and environmental studies in places where the virus might have first spread, like the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan that was the focus of the initial outbreak.

With Associated Press and Reuters

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