By: Yang Jianli

The hunt for the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic must continue. That is the lesson learned after the World Health Organization (WHO) team’s visit to China produced no answers to key questions about how and where the coronavirus started. Team members provided a summary of their month-long investigation in Wuhan, China, during a Feb. 9 news briefing.

In December 2019, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported as “viral pneumonia” in Wuhan. The WHO team discounted the widely believed theory that the virus accidentally leaked from a Wuhan laboratory. Instead, they believe that SARS-CoV-2 first passed to people from an animal. That the team has accepted two hypotheses promoted by China’s government and media makes the report’s impartiality questionable. China has floated the possibility that the virus came from an animal outside China and may have spread on frozen wildlife and other cold-packaged goods.

When the virus began to spread last year, allegations abounded that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which collected extensive virus samples, may have caused the outbreak by accidentally or deliberately leaking the virus into the community. China strongly rejected that possibility. The WHO team said the accidental laboratory leak hypothesis does not explain how the virus was introduced to the human population, and indicated this is an area for future study. Unfortunately, this is akin to giving China a clean chit. [continue reading]