COVID-19: WHO drops Wuhan Lab investigation

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A World Health Organization (WHO) team has dropped an investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, an alleged source of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO team held a press conference Tuesday to discuss their findings and explained coronavirus likely spread from an animal to humans outside of Wuhan.

WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, told reporters that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus emerged as the result of a lab-related incident.

“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,” Embarek said.

“However, the findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population,” Embarek continued. “Therefore it is not a hypothesis that we advise to suggest future studies … into the understanding of the origin of the virus.”

Fox News host Steve Hilton revealed evidence earlier this month regarding the possible origin of the pandemic, leading to allegations that the Wuhan Institute of Virology may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into the surrounding community.

China rejected the allegations brought forth and offered other theories for the virus’s origins.

The WHO team visited Wuhan on Jan. 14, and after two weeks of quarantine, visited key sites such as the Huanan seafood market, which was linked to an early cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been involved in coronavirus research.

A member of the WHO team told The Associated Press last week that they were granted full access to all sites and personnel they requested.

Peter Daszak, a zoologist that specializes in wildlife diseases, said the team looked into issues including what the first cases were, the link with animals and what, if any, the role that imports of frozen food may have played — a theory that China has long put forward.

Hilton exposed evidence earlier this month that linked Daszak to a 2014 research project to assess the risk of new coronavirus emerging from wild animals, like bats.

One of the main goals of the project was to see what viruses can affect both animals and humans.

Daszak then sub-contracted the project to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology then began to genetically engineer new viruses from the feces of bats and infected human cells with the virus.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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