Coronavirus most likely of animal origin and not laboratory made: WHO

The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world infecting nearly 2.5 million people worldwide

The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated on Tuesday that all the available information show that the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 did originate in animals in China late last and it was not produced inside a laboratory.

The US President Donald Trump mentioned last week that his government is giving its best to find out whether the virus got created inside a lab in the city of Wuhan of Hubei province in China where the deadly pandemic started.

Coronavirus most likely originated from animals: WHO

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"All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed in a lab or somewhere else," WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a Geneva news briefing. "It is probable, likely, that the virus is of animal origin."

It was not clear, Chaib added, how the virus had jumped the species barrier to humans but there had "certainly" been an intermediate animal host. "It most likely has its ecological reservoir in bats but how the virus came from bats to humans is still to be seen and discovered."

She did not respond to a request to elaborate on whether it was possible the virus may have inadvertently escaped from a lab. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed rumours both that it synthesized the virus or allowed it to escape.

US is WHO's biggest donor

Chaib, asked about the impact of Trump's decision last week to suspend funding to the UN agency over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, said: "We are still assessing the situation about the announcement by President Trump ...and we will assess the situation and we will work with our partners to fill any gaps."

"It is very important to continue what we are doing not only for COVID but for many, many, many, many other health programmes," she added, referring to action against polio, HIV and malaria among other diseases. She said that the WHO was 81 percent funded for the next two years as of the end of March, referring to its $4.8 billion biennial budget. The United States is the Geneva-based agency's biggest donor. Other big contributors are the Gates Foundation and Britain.

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