In early February, a delegation from the World Health Organization visited the city of Wuhan, considered to be the cradle of the COVID-19 pandemic. With China's cooperation, however contested, these experts were able to investigate important places in the coronavirus' history, such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the city's infamous Huanan market, the pandemic's potential starting point. AFP obtained a copy of the final report of this investigation on the 29 March 2021.
A 'probable to very probable' hypothesis
The results of this survey carried out jointly by the WHO and China confirm what was said at a press conference last February. There, it is explained that transmission to Mankind through an intermediate animal is a 'probable to very probable' hypothesis.
According to experts, the virus would probably have been transmitted naturally from a reserve animal (most certainly the bat) to another animal which acted as an intermediary, before infecting humans. In fact, direct transmission between the reservoir animal and humans is only considered 'possible to probable.'
What about the theory of a lab leak?
Several other theories have been analysed and assessed by experts from the World Health Organization. Thus, the hypothesis of transmission via frozen meat is only a 'possible' scenario. This is the hypothesis favoured by China, no doubt anxious to move suspicions away from the country by any means possible. But another option was ruled out by this investigation.
The theory of the laboratory incident, voluntary or not, was deemed 'extremely improbable' by investigators. The definitive answer will therefore require further investigations in China and elsewhere to really determine, if possible, the origin of the pandemic. The report concludes:
Inquiries need to be designed [...] in larger areas and in more countries.