As their investigation comes to an end, scientists at WHO feel skeptical about whether they would ever succeed in tracking down the exact origins of the virus, owing to China’s sheer lack of transparency and cooperation.
A thorough investigation was carried out in Wuhan for 27 days, by an international team of experts, in an attempt to find traces of the virus’s origins. Hospitals, live animal markets and even laboratories affiliated to the government were visited. Furthermore, they conducted interviews and urged Chinese officials for some information, but all in vain. Admittedly, much more work is needed to learn where this vicious virus, that has taken millions of lives, originated from.
Covid-19 Origins Still Remain Ambiguous Despite The WHO-China Inquiry
The report of a joint inquiry by WHO and China, a copy of which was procured by the New York Times in advance, although contains a plethora of information, it fails to provide any concrete new insight. It is also important to note that the Chinese Communist Party, which is widely known to be opposed to any outside inquiry, has attempted to jeopardize any examinations carried out on the WHO’s part.
Yanzhong Huang, who is the Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes that the investigation is unlikely to fulfill its attempted goal and remains doubtful about whether the investigation would be able to generate any fruitful information.
The report states that China still does not possess any data or research that would suggest how and when the infections started spreading. Many believe that China has more information than it is letting on.
Although some scientists consider it as an important arena to examine, the expert team is disregarding the possibility of the virus emerging from a Chinese laboratory. Jesse Bloom, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, believes that even though it is possible that the virus evolved naturally, it is also not right to completely dismiss the probability of the virus being an unfortunate result of a laboratory accident, just the way the report has done.
Albeit the Chinese Government has permitted access and cooperation, to some extent, it has simultaneously attempted to turn the investigation around to work in their favour. The 124-page report was drafted mutually by a group of 17 researchers, picked out by WHO from all around the globe, along with 17 Chinese scientists, among which some are government officials, thus giving Beijing an undeniable control over the conclusions of the report.
The predominant theory remains that the virus first appeared in bats, and then got passed on to some other animal, and eventually mutated in way that allowed it to infect humans. However, the entire procedure of tracing the origins of the virus is exceptionally laborious and requires great detail.
In order to address the remaining questions, the reports suggests further investigation into the matter, which would require virus testing to be done on livestock in China and Southeast Asia. It would also require a thorough research on the pathway that links farms to markets in Wuhan.
However, it is unknown whether or not the Chinese government will cooperate further with this investigation. The country is notorious for its unintelligible and resistive approach towards the pandemic. All initial cases emerged in China even though Wuhan officials tried to cover up the outbreak, at first. Instances like these help develop theories that holds China responsible for the start of the pandemic. However, whether or not China is to be blamed here is most likely to remain unsolved.