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Tags: Coronavirus | who | bat | virus | infected | coronavirus

Top WHO Official: First COVID-19 Patient May Have Been Infected by Bat While Working at Wuhan Lab

Top WHO Official: First COVID-19 Patient May Have Been Infected by Bat While Working at Wuhan Lab
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By    |   Thursday, 12 August 2021 03:57 PM

The world’s first COVID-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, says top World Health Organization official Dr. Peter Embarek, who led the WHO probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China.

''An employee who was infected in the field by taking samples falls under one of the probable hypotheses,'' Embarek told Danish television station TV2 in a documentary on the pandemic.

''This is where the virus jumps directly from a bat to a human.

''In that case, it would then be a laboratory worker instead of a random villager or other person who has regular contact with bats. So, it is actually in the probable category.''

A joint World Health Organization-China study on the origins of COVID-19 published in March said that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal was the most likely scenario and that a lab leak was ''extremely unlikely.''

The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis — a speculative theory that was promoted by former U.S. President Donald Trump, among others. It also said the role played by a seafood market where human cases were first identified was uncertain.

But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last month said it was premature to rule out a potential link between the pandemic and a laboratory leak and asked China to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus.

China has struck back aggressively, arguing that attempts to link the origins of COVID-19 to a lab are politically motivated and has suggested that the outbreak might have started abroad. At WHO’s annual meeting of health ministers in the spring, China said that the future search for COVID-19′s origins should continue — in other countries.

Embarek said when the WHO team visited the Wuhan lab, investigators were not allowed to look at laboratory books or documents ''directly from the laboratory.'' 

''We got a presentation, and then we talked about and asked the questions we wanted to ask, but we did not get to look at any documentation at all,'' he told TV2.

He also said it was ''interesting'' that the lab moved in December 2019 just a hundred yards from the wet market where scientists found the first cluster of cases.

''This is the period when it all started, and you know what: when you move a laboratory, it is disruptive to everything,'' he said.

''You also have to move the virus collection, sample collection and other collections from one place to another. 

''This whole procedure is always a disruptive element in a laboratory's daily workflow, so at some point it will also be interesting to look at that period and this laboratory.''

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The world's first COVID-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working in the Wuhan Institute of Virology...
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2021-57-12
Thursday, 12 August 2021 03:57 PM
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