WHO says all hypotheses still open in probe into virus origins


FILE PHOTO: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks during the opening of the 148th session of the Executive Board on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2021. Christopher Black/WHO/Handout via REUTERS

GENEVA (Reuters) - All hypotheses are still open in the World Health Organization's search for the origins of COVID-19, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing on Friday.

A WHO-led mission in China said this week that it was not looking further into the question of whether the virus escaped from a lab, which it considered highly unlikely. The United States has said it will review the mission's findings.

"Some questions have been raised as to whether some hypotheses have been discarded. Having spoken with some members of the team, I wish to confirm that all hypotheses remain open and require further analysis and study," Tedros said.

"Some of that work may lie outside the remit and scope of this mission. We have always said that this mission would not find all the answers, but it has added important information that takes us closer to understanding the origins of the COVID-19 virus," he said.

The mission has said its main hypotheses are that the virus originated in a bat, although there are several possible scenarios for how it passed to humans, possibly first by infecting another species of animal.

The former administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which left office last month, said it believed the virus may have escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan. China has strongly denied this, and says the Wuhan Institute of Virology was not studying related viruses.

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