On the afternoon of February 9th, the China-WHO Joint Expert Group on Novel Coronavirus Traceability held a press conference in Wuhan.
Chinese and foreign experts answered many questions of public concern and released the preliminary results of the traceability work.
The South China Seafood Market may not have been the first outbreak in Wuhan
In accordance with the work document agreed between China and WHO in July 2020, WHO sent an international team of experts to Wuhan on January 14, 2021 to form a joint team with Chinese experts, which is divided into three groups: epidemiology, molecular traceability and animal and environment, to jointly carry out part of the global traceability work in China.
Joint group of experts to study the outbreak of a large number of relevant data, the scene is investigated, including gold and silver lake hospital, south China seafood market, Chinese Academy of Sciences, wuhan virus research institute, nine units, and the medical staff, laboratory personnel, scientific research personnel, market management and merchant, community worker, rehabilitation patients, at the expense of medical workers families, residents, such as extensive communication, continuous condensation scientific consensus, joint research results has been basically formed.
The Expert Group responded to the question of how to trace the early stages of the epidemic.
The panel said it carried out a series of studies to trace the outbreak’s early stages, including a review of reports of known cases, a review and review of existing information, and a systematic analysis of multiple factors.
At present, there is no evidence of widespread dissemination of Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan before December 2019.
Liang Wannian, the Chinese leader of the joint expert group and the director of the Department of System Reform of the National Health Commission, introduced that in December 2019, a certain scale transmission of novel coronavirus occurred among people in Wuhan, with most cases concentrated in the second half of the month.
South China seafood market is one of the outbreak points of the new crown epidemic, and it is also a key place that attracted the attention of the disease control department in the early stage of the epidemic. However, the search and analysis of early cases showed that there were cases in South China seafood market at the same time there were cases in other places in Wuhan.
“In Wuhan, we found the earliest case on December 8, 2019, while the earliest confirmed case in South China seafood market was on December 12, 2019.
The current epidemiology suggests that the two cases are not related.”
Liang Wannian said the Huaanhai Fresh Food Market may not be the first place in Wuhan where the outbreak occurred.
The Wuhan Xinguan outbreak is unlikely to have been transmitted from bats to humans, and may have been transmitted by other animals
Peter Ben Embarek, the foreign head of the joint team of experts, said the evidence suggested the virus may have come from a natural host.
But Wuhan is not a large bat concentration, so the initial outbreak in Wuhan is unlikely to be bat-to-human. It could have been spread by other animals.
Liang Wannian pointed out that the coronavirus found in bats and pangolins is considered to be closely related to novel coronavirus, suggesting that it may be the host of novel coronavirus.
But so far, the association is not enough to identify the viruses carried by these two animals as direct ancestors of novel coronavirus.
“Animals such as minks and cats could also be potential hosts.”
“Liang Wannian said.
Peters said WHO’s efforts to trace the origin of the disease require more reliable case testing materials, including potential research materials from early blood banks and further studies of early cases.
There will also be research on animal species, particularly bats, but not just in China, but around the world.
Novel coronavirus is “highly unlikely” to have been introduced to humans in the lab and will not be studied in the future
Where exactly did the virus come from?
Peter revealed the four most likely hypotheses. One is that the virus spills from its natural host and jumps directly from animals to humans.
The second is that the virus is transmitted to animals that are close to humans, and then to humans through this intermediate host.
Third, the virus is transmitted through food, especially cold chain food.
Four, the virus came from a laboratory accident.
Joint group of experts about the possibilities for the scientific assessment, assessment conclusion is divided into “highly unlikely” “impossible” is “probably” “is more likely to be” very likely “” five level), that will be coronavirus” is more likely to be “is the intermediate host is introduced into the crowd,” may “is spread directly or through the cold-chain food is introduced into the crowd,” highly unlikely “is introduced into the crowd, through laboratory in the future will not be in this study.
In view of the Wuhan virus laboratory leakage caused by the speculation of the epidemic, Liang Wannian said: “The virus from the laboratory generally have two possibilities, one is artificial synthesis, one is leakage.
Artificial synthesis has long been a lot of experts confirmed as impossible, and the laboratory in Wuhan this no novel coronavirus, and talk about why leakage?”
WHO should carry out traceability investigation and research in many countries and places around the world
Environmental detection after the closure of South China seafood market generally found that novel coronavirus pollution, especially aquatic product stalls, South China seafood market may be introduced through infected people, contaminated cold chain products, animal products and other ways, but it is not yet confirmed.
No novel coronavirus was found in bats in Hubei Province and a large number of domestic and poultry and wild animals sampled and monitored in China. No evidence of the circulation of novel coronavirus in domestic and poultry and wild animals before and after the outbreak of the epidemic was found.
A number of authoritative Chinese medical and health experts have called on the WHO to carry out traceability investigation and research in many countries and places around the world.
Zeng Guang, former chief scientist of epidemiology at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the WHO is advised to develop a global tracing plan based on chronological order, such as tracking countries or regions that have shown novel coronavirus in blood samples collected in 2019 or earlier.
Zeng also stressed that the United States must be the focus of the traceability effort.
In a recent interview with CNN, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai was asked, “Will there be no restrictions on the WHO team’s visit to China?”
Ambassador Cui replied, “I would like to ask if they are allowed to do the same in the United States?”
“The early cases around the world remind us of the need to trace back to the source and find the real source of the virus,” Cui said. “But this is the professional work of scientists and should not be politicized.”