(p. A9) In its first report, a team of international scientists assembled by the World Health Organization to advise on the origins of the coronavirus said on Thursday [June 9, 2022] that bats likely carried an ancestor of the coronavirus that may have then spilled over into a mammal sold at a wildlife market. But the team said that more Chinese data was needed to study how the virus spread to people, including the possibility that a lab leak played a role.
The team, appointed by the W.H.O. in October as the organization tried to reset its approach to studying the pandemic’s origins, said that Chinese scientists had shared information with them, including from unpublished studies, on two occasions. But gaps in Chinese reports made it difficult to determine when and where the outbreak emerged, the report said.
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Filippa Lentzos, a biosecurity researcher at King’s College London, praised the latest report for noting the lack of published findings from China’s own origin studies. But she said that its proposals for future pandemic origin studies did not adequately account for investigations into “accidental or deliberate events,” which she said would require expertise outside of public health.
Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said that the report made clear that mitigating future pandemic threats required considering both animal and laboratory origins.
“Both of these things are sufficiently serious possibilities that they need to be thought about together,” he said.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 9, 2022, and has the title “Mysteries Linger About Covid’s Origins, W.H.O. Report Says.”)