WHO: Lab leak COVID origin 'unlikely'

An official report from the WHO says that the 'laboratory leak' theory for the origin of the COVID-19 was unlikely, favour animal contagion.

Video Transcript

- Did you find anything?

- The WHO's visit to Wuhan, ground zero for COVID-19, was tightly controlled by Chinese authorities. And the scientists had stuck to a consistent narrative about the possibility of the virus leaking from a Chinese lab. In the official report published today, they repeated that view.

PETER BEN EMBAREK: Lab accidents, of course, do happen once in a while. We've seen that throughout history in many places. But we haven't seen or been able to hear or see or look at anything that would warrant a different conclusion from our side.

- The head of the WHO took his own organization's report and effectively set it on fire. Dr. Tedros said, I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough. Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions. Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy.

Doctor Tedros also said Chinese authorities had not shared data in a sufficiently timely and comprehensive way. It was a remarkable about turn for an organization that has been accused of going too easy on China in the early days of the pandemic. Ahead of the publication of the report, one member of the WHO team who visited Wuhan defended their approach. Do you think it was ever going to be able to fully trust that the authorities were being as full and transparent as possible with your team?

JOHN WATSON: Whilst, of course we didn't go in with our eyes shut, we're aware of that context. What we did was to try to go in as scientists, to talk directly to our scientists [INAUDIBLE], to look with them at the data that they've collected. In that context, we did what I think we reasonably could do.

- For now, the most likely origin of COVID-19 remains the theory that it originated in bats spread to another as yet unidentified animal before infecting humans and leading to an explosive outbreak in Wuhan. The laboratory hypothesis is back in the mix. And that will infuriate Beijing. Tom [? Shasha, ?] Sky News, Beijing.