Covid Patient Zero may have been a Wuhan lab worker, WHO chief says

Dr Peter Embarek said a lab worker in Wuhan could have been infected by a bat

Joe Middleton
Thursday 12 August 2021 23:48
Comments
<p>A resident receiving a test for Covid-19 in a residential area of Wuhan</p>

A resident receiving a test for Covid-19 in a residential area of Wuhan

Leer en Español

The first person to be infected by Covid-19 could have been a Wuhan laboratory employee who came into contact with a bat, a World Health Organisation chief has claimed.

Dr Peter Embarek led the WHO’s four-week investigation on the origins of coronavirus and originally claimed the theory the virus was from a lab in the city was “extremely unlikely”.

However Dr Embarek, an epidemiologist and food safety expert, has now said that a lab worker in Wuhan could have been infected by a bat.

He told Denmark Tv station TV2: “An employee who was infected in the field by taking samples falls under one of the probable hypotheses.

“This is where the virus jumps directly from a bat to a human. In that case, it would then be a laboratory worker instead of a random villager or other person who has regular contact with bats.

“So it is actually in the probable category”.

However, he added that the WHO team found no evidence that the Covid outbreak was linked to research that was being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

He stressed that WHO experts found no direct evidence that the coronavirus outbreak is related to the bat research conducted at Wuhan’s laboratories.

The origin of the virus remains hotly-contested among experts after the first known cases emerged in Wuhan in December 2019, however most specialists do not think a lab leak is the likely cause.

In May, US president Joe Biden ordered aides to find answers to questions over the origin, saying that US intelligence agencies were pursuing rival theories, including the possibility of a laboratory accident. China has consistently dismissed the lab leak theory.

Yuan Zhiming, the director of the biosafety lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, previously said they had not stored or studied the new coronavirus before the outbreak.

“I want to emphasise that .... the Wuhan Institute of Virology has never designed, made or leaked the novel coronavirus,” he said.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in