WHO thinks it knows where COVID-19 is coming from

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According to a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 in China, wildlife farms found in the south are the most common source. probable pandemic.

At the end of January, WHO researchers were dispatched to Wuhan, China, to identify the origins of COVID-19. After a dozen days of fieldwork, the team – made up of ten international scientists and five WHO experts – gave us their first conclusions, ruling out the hypothesis of the virus being leaked from a P4 laboratory. of the city, considered “extremely improbable” by researchers.

On the other hand, the results of this investigation supported the idea of ​​a virus transmitted to humans via an animal intermediate host. He himself, naturally, would therefore have been initially infected with a “reservoir species” (probably horseshoe bats).

But then, who is this intermediary? It is not yet known, but we could know the “starting point” of this incredible pandemic.

Wild animal farms

According to Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist at the EcoHealth Alliance and a member of the WHO delegation that visited China this year, wild animal farms of the country would be incriminated.

Asked by the NPR site, the researcher points out that these wildlife farms, many of which are in or around southern China’s Yunnan Province, supplied animals to vendors at the Huanan Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where the earliest cases of COVID-19 were reported in late 2019.

Some of these wild animals, he says, may have been infected by bats in the area.

The Huanan Wholesale Market in Wuhan. Credit: Eric_Manzi / pixabay

Cut the transmission routes

Wildlife farms are part of a project that the Chinese government has been promoting for twenty years to support rural populations. “They take exotic animals, like civets, porcupines, pangolins, raccoon dogs and bamboo rats, and they raise them in captivity.” to then sell them on the markets, explains the researcher to NPR.

In February 2020, China also reportedly closed these farms, likely because the Chinese government believed they may have been linked to the pandemic. The authorities have thus sent instructions to farmers in the region on how to get rid of the animals, so as to cut off these possible routes of transmission, underlines the researcher.

The next step, says Daszak, will be to determine precisely which species carried the virus among these many wild animal farms. WHO is expected to publish a new report in the coming weeks.

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