Amid Uproar Over COVID-19 Origin, WHO Team to Revisit China Probing the Cause

WHO's visit comes amid worldwide speculations that China is hiding crucial and useful data of COVID-19, that can help contain the spread

Months after Novel Coronavirus isolated the world from normalcy, a World Health Organization team has now decided to visit China, in order to study the origin of COVID-19. The global body had written to China six months ago, seeking a date for the visit.

However, the WHO office in China has now intimated WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that there have been cases of viral pneumonia, as reported by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

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"What is needed now is a good investigation going back before December to find out where and how it jumped from animal to human. Was there any intermediate animal or not or it directly jumped from bat to humans which are also possible? Bats have been implicated in other viral diseases -- Nipah for example," Dr Soumya Swaminathan of WHO was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Dr Soumya who is a Chief Scientist with the WHO added, "It is possible it came directly. It is also possible that there was an intermediate animal-like in the case of SARS. That thorough investigation still needs to be done," and further stressed that, "There are over 500 types of coronaviruses. There are also previous studies showing that populations living in southern China and even in other countries of South-East Asia have antibodies to coronaviruses."

However, even before the WHO announced its "international mission" to China, quite a handful of Chinese experts have pointed that the pandemic started from Spain, nine months before it reached Wuhan. Ever since the outbreak hit China's Wuhan, the Chief Epidemiologist for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has stressed that, "It does not matter which country the scientific identification work starts with, as long as it involves all related countries and is fairly conducted."

Another health advisor to Xi Jinping's government, Wang Guangfa hinted that WHO must consider the cases in Spain's Barcelona. It must be noted that researchers in Barcelona had pointed that they detected the presence of the virus in samples of wastewater, in March 2019.

Independent experts however have a strong notion that the origin of bats from Yunnan that is China's largest wet market, was the initial node for transmission and later reached Spain or other parts of the world. Dr Peter Daszak, the President of EcoHealth alliance said, "The science involved in studying the pandemic is expensive and takes time. But conducting this study can serve the purpose of saving several lives and can prevent another pandemic from happening." Dr Daszak told this to newspapers months after Trump stopped funding for the EcoHealth Alliance – one among the many international groups that was aiding China in their understating of coronavirus.

Ever since the pandemic hit the world and shattered economies, moved the healthcare systems – China has been criticised for not sharing or revealing enough data pertaining to the virus. The WHO Chief Dr Ghebreyesus has now stressed that "knowing the source of the virus is very, very important," and China is left with no other option, but to let the team of animal experts and epidemiologists into their territory.

Dr Daszak has excavated many limestone caves in search of urine, swab, blood samples of bats, that are in huge numbers in China. "We have found some 500 coronaviruses in China now that come from bats," as he reveals that, There are likely more – and as of yet we have no way to know which will become a human pandemic before a spillover event [takes place]."

WHO briefing involving Dr Soumya Swaminathan Twitter
Dr Dazak's tweet on talks with Dr Soumya at the WHO briefing Twitter