WHO researchers visit bio lab in Chinese city of Wuhan where coronavirus outbreak started

The Chinese Communist Party has rejected the idea that the virus leaked from the bio research lab.

Published: February 3, 2021 7:38am

Updated: February 3, 2021 12:18pm

A team of investigators with the World Health Organization on Wednesday visited the bio research lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the coronavirus was first detected in late-2019. 

China officials said early in the pandemic that the virus started when a woman ate a bat she bought from a delicacy "wet" market in Wuhan, a city or roughly 11 million. However, speculation remains about whether the virus leaked from the lab, a scenario that the ruling Chinese Communist Party has rejected.

The team's visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology is a part of their overall trip to China to gather data and search for answers about where the sometimes deadly virus originated and how it originally began to spread.

Members of the research crew said they intended to meet with institute leaders and press them on critical issues pertaining to the virus's origins.

"We're looking forward to meeting with all the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked," said Peter Daszak, a British zoologist and member of the research team. 

Daszak himself helped channel federal funding grants in 2019 to the Wuhan lab. He also is the president of New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, an organization that bills itself as "a global environmental health nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and public health from the emergence of disease."

In that capacity at EcoHealth, he previously led scientific inquiries into the pathogenicity of bat-based coronaviruses. EcoHealth under Daszak was awarded a total of $3.4 million in National Institutes of Health grants over six years to study, in part, "the origin, diversity, capacity to cause illness, and risk of spillover" of those viruses. 

Thus far, there have been few details shared with the press about the discussions occurring between WHO team members and officials at the institute. 

Last week, the team exited two weeks in quarantine to officially begin their fact finding mission.

The the group is comprised of experts across multiple scientific fields, including top practitioners of veterinary medicine, virology, food safety and epidemiology. Team members reportedly are from 10 countries including the United States and over the past several days have visited hospitals, research institutes and the wet market initially linked to the outbreak of the virus. 

Confirmation of the virus's origins will likely take years to discover and prove. The team is also under strict guideline and restrictions by Chinese government, which could limit their finding. For months, the WHO team negotiated with the Chinese Communist Party over what would be the necessary access to fulfill its fact-finding mission.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News