Virologist: WHO Team Found No ‘Credible Link’ Between Wuhan Labs, COVID-19

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

Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

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Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

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

Hector Retamal/AFP by means of Getty Images

The team stated the pandemic did not begin at the citys Huanan Seafood Market, which was an area of an early coronavirus outbreak, due to the fact that the infection was already distributing in advance.

The WHO teams primary public conclusion so far is that its “incredibly not likely” that the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan. The researchers believe the virus probably begun in bats, then jumped to other animals, then to people.

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 belonged to that team that “rebuilt every step in that initial break out” in two weeks of examination.

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

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

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

You most likely also are hinting at the laboratory hypothesis.

And this is a long method of stating we actually do not know. The market has actually magnified.

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

Since individuals raised it, Ill just raise 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.

If theres a lot of proof pointing to the market, but perhaps not all the proof always pointing to the market, is there any other area thats a suspect in your mind?

From everything that weve looked at and weve likewise gone to three laboratories included and also three laboratories that work on these infections. From that, we have not been able to find any reputable link there.

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

This is a subject and an objective. There are level of sensitivities around it … huge political stress that are around it. And thats something you can not totally avoid in a circumstance like this. As soon as we got out of our quarantine, got into the face-to-face meetings, I think weve managed to get into real good clinical exchange with stiff conversations here and there, due to the fact that [ people] start from various backgrounds and various views. I inform everyone, wait and check out the report and lets go over then. But I believe we handled to get a good outcome of this meeting. I believe it was in that sense rather effective.

Is there anything that you think is necessary to know that you do not have access to?

The very first cases that were spotted were linked to the market, but its clear that so now theres a larger list of cases that are confirmed and its clear that not everybody is linked to the market. What was likewise done on this journey is to try and get genetic series from patients on the market and elsewhere. And you there likewise see the market is not the whole story. The market has been one of those spreading occasions. There likewise was circulation outside of, aside from the market.

Not actually. If you say, did the Chinese coworkers hand over the complete raw data files? No, they did not. Then once again, I did not expect that in a mission like this. Weve seen a lot of info. Weve been offered a great deal of information. Weve had access to individuals dealing with the data, aggregating the data, looking at what precise surveys that they used, what does the data file look like. To me, that is rather comprehensive data access.

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