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WHO China Report Says Animals Most Likely Source of Covid-19, Denounces Lab Leak Hypothesis

A man walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on a street in Navi Mumbai, India, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

A man walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on a street in Navi Mumbai, India, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

The report's release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions to prevent blame for the coronavirus pandemic.

A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is extremely unlikely," according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.

The findings were largely as expected and left many questions unanswered. The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.

The report's release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions to prevent blame for the coronavirus pandemic falling on China. A World Health Organization official said late last week that he expected it would be ready for release in the next few days.

The AP received what appeared to be a near-final version on Monday from a Geneva-based diplomat from a WHO-member country. It wasnt clear whether the report might still be changed prior to its release. The diplomat did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to release it ahead of publication.

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first published:March 29, 2021, 12:12 IST