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COVID is most likely transmitted by animals, says WHO

BEIJING: A joint WHO-China report on the source of Covid-19 claimed that transmission of the virus from bats to humans via another species is the most probable scenario and that a lab leak is “highly unlikely.”

Bats are known to bear coronaviruses, and the virus that causes COVID-19’s closest relative has been discovered in bats.

The evolutionary gap between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, indicating a missing link, the paper revealed.

It stated that extremely similar viruses have been found in pangolins, a different type of mammal. It also implied that mink and cats are susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, implying that they may be carriers as well.

The results were mostly as expected, but several questions remained unanswered. Except for the lab leak hypothesis, the team proposed further research in every field.

The study is being closely monitored because learning more about the virus’s origins could aid scientists in preventing future pandemics — but it’s also highly sensitive because China resents any suggestion that it is to blame for the current one.

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The drafted report is inconclusive on whether the outbreak began at a Wuhan seafood market in December 2019, which had one of the first clusters of cases.

The report’s release has been repeatedly postponed, raising concerns about whether the Chinese side was trying to distort the results to avoid bearing responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic.

As the pandemic spread across the world, China discovered virus samples on the packaging of frozen food entering the country and, in some cases, connected localized outbreaks to them.

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The cold chain, as it is called, maybe a catalyst of long-distance virus transmission, but the study was dubious that it was the cause of the outbreak. The risk is lower than that of human-to-human respiratory infection, according to the study, and most experts agree.

“While there is some evidence for the potential reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2 in China by handling of imported infected frozen goods after the initial pandemic wave,” the study said, “this would be extraordinary in 2019 where the virus was not widely circulating.”

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