WHO team rules out lab leak as origin of the coronavirus

The World
Peter Ben Embarek, of the World Health Organization, is shown wearing a dark suit and tie and holding up a paper with a diagram on it.

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A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) and a joint Chinese mission investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China, said that it is extremely unlikely the coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped from animals to humans.

“Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research,” WHO’s Peter Ben Embarek said in a press conference Tuesday.

The WHO team, who began the investigation after a two-week quarantine and more than a year after COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, released the first details of their month-long fact-finding mission in China. They suggested that the virus is likely to have originated in animals and that a transmission via frozen food is a possibility that warrants further investigation.

Data suggests that COVID-19 could have been circulating in other regions before being identified in Wuhan, according to Dr. Liang Wannian, the Chinese lead on the joint international team of scientists. "This indicates the possibility of the missed reported circulation in other regions," Wannian said.

The WHO team's mission is intended to be an initial step delving into the origins of the virus.

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Listen: Myanmar demonstrators protest military rule following coup

A large crowd of people are shown surrounding a police truck which is shooting a water cannon into the crowd.

A police truck uses a water cannon to disperse a crowd of protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Feb. 8, 2021.



A week ago, Myanmar's military ended the country's brief experiment with democracy, leading a coup and taking full control over the government. But in recent days, crowds of protesters have taken to the streets to say otherwise. And, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says lifting sanctions is a prerequisite to getting back to the negotiation table with the US on the nuclear deal. Also, we remember George Shultz, one of the most influential secretaries of state in US history, who died Saturday.

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