Lab leak theory needs ‘further investigation’, says WHO

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The new report from the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens (SAGO), a WHO expert group set up in 2021 to research the causes of the pandemic, said “key data are not yet available for a full understanding of how the Covid-19 pandemic began.”

The report, however, suggests the virus likely originated in animals, likely bats. But he also didn’t rule out the possibility of a lab leak, citing the lack of clear data.

“Currently, currently available epidemiological and sequencing data suggest that the ancestral strains of SARS-CoV-2 have a zoonotic origin, with the closest genetically related viruses being beta-coronaviruses, identified in bats. Rhinolophus in China in 2013 (96.1%) and in Laos in 2020 (96.8%),” the report states.

However, “this preliminary report is not intended to provide conclusive conclusions about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and it does not, because additional information is needed from the studies recommended in this report.”

“SAGO will remain open to all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow full testing of all reasonable assumptions,” he added.

The WHO had previously claimed that China was not cooperating to investigate the origins and had blocked efforts.

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