Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from Chinese laboratory, WHO scientist says

WUHAN, China — The theory that the novel coronavirus initially leaked from a Chinese laboratory into the human population is “extremely unlikely,” a World Health Organization scientist announced Tuesday.

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According to The Associated Press, the news came during a press conference in Wuhan, China, where a WHO team has been investigating what sparked the COVID-19 pandemic. The team, which includes scientists from 10 countries, arrived in Wuhan last month and is wrapping up its visit.

Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on animal diseases and food safety for the WHO, said the virus likely was introduced to humans “through an intermediary host” animal, a theory “that will require more studies and more specific, target research.”

The virus also could have been introduced to humans through frozen products, Embarek said.

Since the first confirmed COVID-19 cases arose in Wuhan in December 2019, more than 106.5 million infections and 2.3 million deaths have been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has reported more than 27 million coronavirus cases and 465,000 deaths.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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