Origins of coronavirus could be known 'in a few years'

Yahoo News Staff
·2-min read

One of the leaders of the recent World Health Organisation-led mission to China to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus expects finding out "fairly soon, within the next few years" to reveal what started the pandemic.

In a press briefing overnight, Peter Daszak, a British zoologist and expert on disease ecology, estimated collective scientific research could pin down how animals carrying Covid-19 might have infected the first humans in Wuhan.

"There was a conduit from Wuhan to the provinces ... in south China, where the closest relative viruses to [the coronavirus] are found in bats," Mr Daszak said.

Security guard check at the gate of Wuhan Institute of Virology during coronavirus mission.
Security guard stand out the Wuhan Institute of Virology ahead of a visit from the World Health Organisation. Source: AAP

He said the wildlife trade seemed to be the most likely explanation of Covid-19 arriving in Wuhan, where the first human cases were detected last December.

That hypothesis, Mr Daszak said, was "the one that's most strongly supported both on the WHO and the China side".

Mr Daszak and his co-authors are set to release a report, as early as next week, on the initial conclusions of their recent mission to Wuhan.

They concluded it was "extremely unlikely" the pandemic was the result of a laboratory accident, despite the fact the theory continues to be promoted.

Doubt over Wuhan origin

Professor John Watson, a leading World Health Organisation scientist who spent four weeks in Hubei province at the start of the year, said the virus's leap from animals to humans may have occurred outside of China's borders.

Asked recently if he was sure the virus emerged in China, Professor Watson, who previously served as England's deputy chief medical officer until 2017, said "no".

A coronavirus inquiry looked into Chinese origins.
An airline worker at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan. Source: Getty Images

He believes the virus may have started at an "animal reservoir" before being passed to an "intermediate host".

Professor Watson's reservations were echoed by Australian scientist Dominic Dwyer who also investigated the origins of the virus in China with WHO mission.

He also believes the pandemic did not necessarily stem from the live animal market in Wuhan.

"The market in Wuhan, in the end, was more of an amplifying event rather than necessarily a true ground zero. So we need to look elsewhere for the viral origins," he wrote in a new piece for The Conversation, detailing the highly publicised envoy.

with AP

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