Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves a report that was put out by WHO involving the coronavirus.
A joint World Health Organization-China report on the origins of the coronavirus says it most probably jumped from animals to humans via an intermediate animal host, downplays the possibility it leaked from a lab and suggests next steps in a complex search mired in controversy, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.
The report which is set to be released on Tuesday, offers the most detailed look yet at what happened in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and early 2020. The findings are far from conclusive and will be overshadowed by questions about China’s lack of transparency and the WHO’s apparent inability to press for more. The team recommends further study of the possible path of transmission between animals and humans and on transmission through frozen food a once-fringe theory favored by the Chinese government. It does not recommend additional research on the lab leak hypothesis.
China’s coverup of the outbreak in Wuhan, the WHO’s early praise for the country’s response and the fact that it took a full year to get a joint Chinese-international team on the ground for a brief visit, the critical but challenging search for clues faced skepticism from the start. Questions about Chinese interference will be hard to shake. The terms of reference set out by WHO member states called for a collaboration between Chinese and foreign scientists, not an independent investigation or audit. Much of the data was collected by Chinese scientists ahead of the visit and then analyzed by the joint team. Among the report’s findings is that the market linked to early cases was not necessarily the source of the virus, as some once believed, but may have been the site of an early outbreak or an accelerator, as a virus that was circulating in December 2019 spread between close packed stalls.
It notes the earliest reported case, from December 8,2019, did not have any link to the market, but it suggests that mild and asymptomatic cases may have gone undetected. The report, therefore, does not draw a firm conclusion and calls for additional research on the role of that and other markets. According to the report, 233 Chinese health institutions reviewed 76,253 records of cases of respiratory conditions from October and November 2019, found 92 cases compatible with SARS-Co-V2 but later ruled out each case, concluding significant transmission before December was unlikely. The report questions whether the clinical criteria used to select those cases was sufficiently broad and notes that the results were based on serological testing conducted about a year later. It says the possibility of transmission before December 2019 cannot be excluded and recommends a review of methods and additional studies on Chinese blood samples.
The report reiterates the team’s belief that the virus most probably jumped from an animal, potentially a bat or pangolin, to an unknown intermediate animal host, then to humans, but the path of transmission remains a mystery. It recommends additional studies on livestock and farmed wildlife that may be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, such as cats and mink.
The mission concludes it is extremely unlikely the virus accidentally leaked from a lab in Wuhan a theory many scientists downplay for lack of evidence but that others are not ready to dismiss after a single visit.
The visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology lasted a few hours, according to scientists on the trip. They got a tour of the facility, heard about the lab’s rigorous safety protocols and were told the lab was not working with viruses close to SARS-CoV-2. One member of the team said in a post-trip television interview that researchers at the lab were sick in the fall of 2019 a potentially interesting finding that had been raised by the Trump administration but then dismissed its relevance and offered little else. The final report states there was no direct infection of workers but does not go into detail or recommend further research on the topic.
When a novel coronavirus hit Wuhan in late 2019, Chinese officials downplayed the risk, undercounted cases and silenced would-be whistleblowers. Then through the early weeks of the crisis, the WHO amplified some of the official Chinese line, giving a false sense of reassurance and eroding public trust. Even though the Huanan market had been shut for a year and its contents removed, for instance, seeing the proximity of the stalls and the layout helped, said WHO team member Hung Nguyen-Viet, a Vietnamese expert on livestock and human health.