(NBC) – A World Health Organization report found that COVID-19 probably came to people through an animal and likely started spreading no more than a month or two before it was noticed in December of 2019. The organization says more needs to be done and many questions remain unanswered.
Much of what was in the report was already known from when the team finished its mission in Wuhan. What it does is formalizes the conclusion that a leak from a laboratory, while possible, was extremely unlikely. The virus likely passed from bats to an animal host to humans before sparking an explosive outbreak in Wuhan.
What the animal was, and how the virus made it to Wuhan, remain the unanswered parts of the mystery.
Dr. Peter Ben Embarek with the WHO said, “The current thinking is still that we are looking at the start in and around Wuhan and moving backwards, trying to find out how we came there and whether it came from another part of China or elsewhere. That will depend on the further studies and research.”
The report is gathering a lot of criticism from those who say the team relied too heavily on Chinese data. China has tried to steer the narrative to have other countries considered as possible sources of the virus like India, Italy, or even the United States.
China released a statement reacting to the report saying it believes it operated in a way that was open and transparent to help the investigation get this far.