Coronavirus from bats was transmitted to humans via another animal

Covid 'most likely' came from bats and China lab leak theory 'extremely unlikely' WHO report concludes

-China study obtained by the Associated Press.

The coronavirus causing COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, likely originated from animals, a draft copy of a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origin of the virus reportedly said.

Asked to comment further on its conclusions, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "As I have said all hypotheses are on the table and warrant complete and further studies".

Earlier in February, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had said, "We do not believe that China has made available sufficient original data into how this pandemic began to spread both in China and then eventually around the world". Beijing has favored the theory that COVID-19 transmission came through frozen meat imported in frozen food packages.

In the 15 months since the coronavirus emerged, the pandemic has engulfed the planet, killing almost 2.8 million people and shredding the global economy.

But they said they had worked to rank a number of hypotheses according to how likely they were.

The WHO mission was aimed at finding clues as to how the virus originally jumped from animals into humans. The final report determined that this scenario was "possible to likely". However, the report says that "the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, suggesting a missing link".

Last week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry gave a briefing to diplomats on the main findings of WHO's research in anticipation of the release of the report.

This is expected to be identified as the most likely scenario while completely ruling out that the virus was released in or from a laboratory environment, stating that the possibility of deliberate release from a laboratory is "extremely unlikely".

"The scenario including introduction through an intermediary host was considered to be likely to very likely", though it was not clear which animal may have allowed the jump.

The probe was plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which under former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak. They evaluated direct spread from bats to humans as likely, and said that spread through "cold-chain" food products was possible but not likely.

The report argued there was no record of a virus resembling SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019 and stressed high safety levels at the Wuhan labs.

It was only in January 2021 that a team of global experts assembled by the World Health Organization finally visited Wuhan to start a month-long investigation on the ground.

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