Covid: 'Extremely unlikely' coronavirus came from Wuhan lab in China, says World Health Organisation

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward has more on the findings

Covid-19 is “extremely unlikely” to have first spread to humans in a lab-related leak or incident, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Health officials presented their findings on Tuesday amid ongoing investigations into the virus’ origins in China, outlining four potential scenarios.

The quartet includes transmission from animal to human and from the food chain – but rules out the chances of the coronavirus coming from a laboratory.

“The findings suggest lab incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population,” Dr Peter Ben Embarek, leader of the WHO’s investigating team said.

Chinese Investigator Liang Wannian also described the chances as “impossible”.

He said: "The whole scientific community has dismissed the manmade potential of the virus, and the only other option would be a leak, and given the virus does not exist in the lab in Wuhan, that is also deemed impossible."

The team have made a series of recommendations for future studies to examine the origins of the virus – including a direct spillover from animals to humans or the virus coming to humans through an “intermediary host”.

They have also called for more research into frozen foods.

But they said they do not need to research further the possibility that the virus came from a lab.

WHO experts have been probing the origins of the virus in the Chinese city and have spent four weeks there.

A worker in protective coverings directs members of the World Health Organisation team on their arrival at the airport in Wuhan. Credit: WHO

Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the virus was present in Wuhan before December 2019, they said.

Dr Embarek added: “We did not find evidence of large outbreaks prior to December 2019 in Wuhan or elsewhere.”

The experts added that they “don’t know” the exact role of Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the origin of the virus.

A cluster of cases was linked to the market, but officials also found cases among people who had no ties to the market.

Some had links to other markets and others had no links to markets at all, they said.