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Wednesday Feb 03 2021
By
Reuters

COVID-19 probe: WHO team visits China virus lab in Wuhan

By
Reuters
Peter Daszak and Thea Fischer, members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), sit in a car arriving at Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 3, 2021. -REUTERS
  • EcoHealth Alliance expert says looking forward to a very productive day, meeting the key people here and asking all the important questions.
  • Some scientists have called for China to release details of all coronavirus samples studied at the lab.
  • The institute has been at the centre of a number of conspiracy theories.


WUHAN: Amid conspiracy theories surrounding the origin of coronavirus, a team of investigators working on behalf of the World Health Organization visited a major virus research laboratory in China's central city of Wuhan on Wednesday.

Driving through thick morning mist, the team, led by WHO virus expert Peter Ben Embarek, arrived at the heavily guarded Wuhan Institute of Virology at about 9:30 a.m.

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"I am looking forward to a very productive day, meeting the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked," team member Peter Daszak, who is the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, said from his car as it drove in.

The institute has been at the centre of a number of conspiracy theories that claim a laboratory leak caused the city's first coronavirus outbreak at the end of 2019.

Most scientists reject the hypothesis, but some speculate that a virus captured from the wild could have figured in experiments at the lab to test the risks of a human spillover and then escaped via an infected staff member.

Some scientists have called for China to release details of all coronavirus samples studied at the lab, to see which most closely resembles SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory disease.