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AP Exclusive: WHO-China Report Says Animals Likely Source Of COVID-19

WHO Embarek 020921 - Ap.jpeg
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File
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In this Feb. 9, 2021, file photo, Peter Ben Embarek of the World Health Organization team holds up a chart showing pathways of transmission of the virus during a joint news conference at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is "extremely unlikely," according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.

The findings offer little new insight into how the virus first emerged and leave many questions unanswered, though that was as expected.

A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak of the coronavirus is “extremely unlikely.”

The Associated Press received a draft copy Monday from a Geneva-based diplomat from a WHO-member country.

The findings offer little new insight into how the virus first emerged and leave many questions unanswered, though that was as expected.

But the report does provide more detail on the reasoning behind the researchers’ conclusions.

The report’s release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions.

Earlier this month, a member of the WHO investigative team told NPR that wildlife farms in southern China were the most likely source of the pandemic.

Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist with EcoHealth Alliance and a member of the WHO delegation that traveled to China this year, said China shut down those wildlife farms in February 2020.

Daszak said the WHO team found new evidence that these wildlife farms were supplying vendors at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan with animals.

Daszak told NPR that the government response was a strong signal that the Chinese government thought those farms were the most probable pathway for a coronavirus in bats in southern China to reach humans in Wuhan.

Click here to read the complete AP article.