Virologist On Wuhan Trip: Seafood Market ‘Not The Whole Story’ In Early Outbreak

Marion Koopmans became part of a WHO team that traveled to Wuhan to investigate the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She informs NPR that the Wuhan seafood market was “not the entire story.”

Hector Retamal/AFP by means of Getty Images

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Hector Retamal/AFP through Getty Images

Marion Koopmans became part of a WHO group that took a trip to Wuhan to investigate the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She tells NPR that the Wuhan seafood market was “not the whole story.”

Hector Retamal/AFP through Getty Images

After taking a trip to Wuhan, China, a team of researchers from the World Health Organization is readying a preliminary report on the origins of the coronavirus.

Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans was part of that group that “reconstructed every step in that preliminary break out” in 2 weeks of examination.

Wuhan is where the infection was initially reported in December 2019.

The WHO teams main public conclusion so far is that its “exceptionally unlikely” that the infection came from a laboratory in Wuhan. The scientists think the infection more than likely started in bats, then jumped to other animals, then to people.

The team stated the pandemic did not start at the citys Huanan Seafood Market, which was an area of an early coronavirus outbreak, due to the fact that the virus was currently distributing ahead of time.

Koopmans talked with Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition about what her team discovered in Wuhan. Here are excerpts:

[Was] the market the location where the virus made the leap from animals to people?

The first cases that were detected were linked to the market, but its clear that so now theres a bigger list of cases that are validated and its clear that not everyone is connected to the market. And you there likewise see the market is not the entire story.

Ill just raise it because people raised it. Exists any evidence or can you rule it out?

Other markets, thats clearly there. That will be in the report. Those supply chains do lead to regions where theres likewise the hotspot for the bat coronavirus.

You most likely likewise are meaning the laboratory hypothesis.

If theres a lot of proof pointing to the market, however possibly not all the evidence necessarily pointing to the market, is there any other location thats a suspect in your mind?

So from whatever that weve taken a look at and weve likewise visited 3 labs included and likewise three labs that deal with these infections. From that, we have not been able to discover any reputable link there.

And this is a long method of stating we truly do not know. So the marketplace has magnified. But even if you then have a case that has not [ been] connected to the marketplace, due to the fact that of this stealth mechanism of spread, it can still be linked in some way, due to the fact that someone selected up an infection from another individual that was at the market.

How open and transparent were the Chinese once they let you in?

I inform everyone, check out the report and wait and lets discuss then. I think we managed to get a great outcome of this meeting. I believe it was in that sense rather successful.

Is there anything that you believe is needed to understand that you dont have access to?

Not actually. If you say, did the Chinese colleagues hand over the total raw information files? No, they did not. Then again, I did not anticipate that in a mission like this. Weve seen a lot of information. Weve been provided a great deal of info. Weve had access to individuals dealing with the data, aggregating the data, taking a look at what exact surveys that they utilized, what does the data file appear like. To me, that is rather substantial data access.

The very first cases that were detected were connected to the market, however its clear that so now theres a bigger list of cases that are validated and its clear that not everyone is linked to the market. What was likewise done on this trip is to try and get genetic series from patients on the market and in other places. And you there also see the market is not the entire story. The market has been one of those spreading out occasions. There also was circulation outside of, aside from the market.

Milton Guevara and Catherine Whelan produced and modified the audio interview. James Doubek produced for the Web.