WHO Experts Open to Notion That China Lab Leak Spurred COVID-19

THURSDAY, June 9, 2022 — In an about-face from an original report on what might have caused the COVID-19 pandemic, experts enlisted by the World Health Organization said Thursday that they could not discount the “China lab leak” theory.

In contrast, the initial WHO assessment in 2021 firmly stated it was “extremely unlikely” that a lab accident may have led to the release of the coronavirus.

In this latest report, experts pointed out that “key pieces of data” remain missing in efforts to find out how the pandemic began, and they said they would “remain open to any and all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow for comprehensive testing of all reasonable hypotheses.” They noted that lab accidents have triggered some previous outbreaks, so the theory could not be discounted.

In February, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked senior Chinese government officials for more information, including details about the earliest human cases of COVID-19 in the city of Wuhan. But the WHO experts said China did not provide any research that assessed the possibility of COVID-19 being a laboratory leak, and they also noted that not all studies by Chinese scientists on the virus have been published.

A multipronged investigation into the origins of COVID-19 is needed, including research on the possible role of animals and studies in places where the virus might have first spread, such as the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, according to the WHO team.

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