After a four-week mission to discover where the coronavirus pandemic came from, a WHO team is leaving China. Scientists think the most likely carriers of the virus are bats. However, a major theory about where the virus came from was not altered by the mission. The WHO team was never expected to pinpoint the origin of the pandemic definitively. The visit was politically sensitive for China, who is concerned about any allegations that it did not properly deal with the initial outbreak.
More than 2.3 million people have died from the virus worldwide, which has now killed 2.4 million people around the world. It could take years to identify the source of the outbreak and to identify the source of its spread, experts say. The findings of the WHO team confirm what researchers had already surmised. Chinese health officials note that only surfaces, not any animal products, tested positive for the virus on the market. An infected individual could also have introduced the virus to the market. The joint investigation left open the possibility that frozen food could have spread the virus to humans.
Questions about how much freedom China would give the researchers to visit the places they wanted have dogged the mission. It was “very unlikely” that anything could escape from a place such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where the virus was found, the WHO team leader said. A WHO team member says: “The virus has to come from somewhere” It would still not answer the question of how the virus came from originally.