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WHO Report Dismisses COVID Lab-Leak Hypothesis

Peter Ben Embarek, a member of the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus holds a chart during a joint study news conference in Wuhan, China, February 9, 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

A joint report by Western and Chinese scientists contracting with the WHO urges exploration of every COVID-origin hypothesis except for that of the lab-leak, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

The report, which is expected to be released on Tuesday, was based on the findings of an investigative team that traveled to Wuhan in February and suggests that bat to human transmission is the most likely origin.

The researchers propose further investigation of every hypothesis of the pandemic’s origins, except for the possibility that coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, according to a draft document obtained by the AP.

“This report does not stem from a thorough investigation into the origins of COVID-19 but instead stems from a two-week study tour in Wuhan where members of this committee engaged in highly curated conversations and were chaperoned at all times by Chinese apparatchiks,” WHO adviser Jamie Metzl told National Review. “The report that comes out as a consensus report . . . it is not designed to be and cannot be the type of full an unrestricted international investigation that’s required.”

The only American permitted by China to join the investigation, Peter Daszak, steered $598,000 in grants from the National Institutes of Health to the Wuhan Institute of Virology between 2014 and 2020. The grants were in part intended to fund research into bat coronaviruses and were supplied through Ecohealth Alliance, a research non-profit headed by Daszak.

“We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Thursday.

U.S. intelligence has reportedly assessed that the coronavirus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan. Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield said that the coronavirus may have “escaped” from a lab, in comments to CNN on Friday.

“If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan,” Redfield said. The former director added, “it’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly claimed that a number of Western scientists on the WHO COVID-19 investigative team worked at EcoHealth Alliance. In fact, those EcoHealth employees signed The Lancet statement ruling out the lab-leak hypothesis but were not appointed to the WHO team.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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