Photo: Pexels
Photo: Pexels

The World Health Organisation believes that COVID-19 had most likely taken place from bats to humans through another animal. At the same time, a joint WHO-China study on the origins of the pandemic has ruled out the possibility that it stemmed from a lab leak in Wuhan.

The report remains unpublished, and has been delayed repeatedly. According to the draft copy obtained by The Associated Press, a lab leak is "extremely unlikely" and the team has not proposed further research into that theory.

More than a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But even with more than a 100 million cases recorded in the world, uncertainly remains about the origin of the virus. In the initial months, several theories had been bandied about - from it being a deliberately engineered bio weapon to speculation that people had consumed infected bats or gone shopping at the now infamous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan.

Over the last year, countless experts have researched the topic, weighing in on how the global pandemic started. While some say that bats were not responsible, others are firmly convinced that COVID-19 did not originate in a Wuhan lab.

"All available evidence for COVID-19 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source. Since there is usually limited close contact between humans and bats, it is more likely that transmission of the virus to humans happened through another animal species, one that is more likely to be handled by humans. This intermediate animal host or zoonotic source could be a domestic animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal and, as of yet, has not been identified," says an excerpt from a WHO report from April 2020.

A year later, the conclusions appear to have remained the same. The publication said that it had received a copy of what appeared to be a near-final version from a diplomat. It is not clear whether data in the report will be updated prior to release.

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