WUHAN (CHINA) – World Well being Group inspectors visited a laboratory in China’s Wuhan metropolis on Wednesday that American officers advised may have been the supply of the coronavirus.
The inspection of the Wuhan virology institute, which conducts analysis on the world’s most harmful ailments, might be one of many most-watched stops on the crew’s probe into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The delicate mission, which China had delayed all through the primary yr of the pandemic, has a remit to discover how the virus jumped from animal to human.
However questions stay over what the consultants can hope to seek out after a lot time has handed.
The convoy of automobiles drove previous safety to enter a virology institute shrouded in mist Wednesday morning, with the primary automotive pausing briefly to take questions from journalists.
WHO crew member Peter Daszak mentioned the crew was “wanting ahead to a really productive day and to asking all of the questions that we all know should be requested”.
Scientists assume Covid-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has gone on to kill greater than two million individuals worldwide — originated in bats and will have been transmitted to individuals by way of one other mammal.
However there are not any definitive solutions to this point.
There was hypothesis early within the pandemic that the virus may have by accident leaked from the biosafety lab in Wuhan, though there was no proof to again up that principle.
– Lab theories –
Then-US president Donald Trump and his supporters seized on these rumours and amplified them with conspiracy theories that China intentionally leaked the virus.
The US-secretary of state Mike Pompeo insisted final yr that there was “important proof” that the virus got here from the lab, whereas releasing no proof and acknowledging that there was no certainty.
Chinese language state broadcaster CGTN mentioned the WHO crew would “go to the nationwide biosafety laboratory and change concepts with consultants of the institute on their each day work, worldwide scientific cooperation, anti-epidemic efforts and contribution”.
China has confronted criticism at house and overseas for taking part in down the preliminary outbreak and concealing data when it first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019.
However Daszak instructed journalists on Tuesday the mission was continuing “very properly”, because the group was pushed into an animal illness management centre.
China can be decided to place the give attention to its restoration from the outbreak, and the WHO crew toured a propaganda exhibition celebrating China’s restoration from the pandemic in Wuhan on Saturday.
On Sunday the crew went to the market in Wuhan the place one of many first reported clusters of infections emerged over a yr in the past, which Daszak tweeted was a “important” cease.
Shi Zhengli, considered one of China’s main consultants on bat coronaviruses and deputy director of the Wuhan lab, raised some eyebrows in a June 2020 interview with Scientific American journal through which she mentioned she was initially anxious over whether or not the virus had leaked from the ability.
However subsequent checks revealed that not one of the gene sequences matched the viruses held by the lab, Shi mentioned, including: “I had not slept a wink for days.”
She later mentioned she would “wager her life that (the brand new coronavirus) had nothing to do with the lab”, in keeping with Chinese language state media.