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World Health Organization: 'All hypotheses' about COVID origin 'remain on the table'

All hypotheses "on the table," leader says.

Published: December 21, 2022 4:11pm

Updated: December 21, 2022 4:20pm

The director-general of the World Health Organization indicated this week that the controversial lab-leak origin theory of COVID-19 remains under consideration nearly three years after the WHO first declared the virus a pandemic. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the remarks at a media briefing on Wednesday of this week. Ghebreyesus noted that the pandemic "has declined significantly this year," though he argued that "there are still too many uncertainties and gaps for us to say the pandemic is over."

"[G]aps in our understanding of how this pandemic began compromise our ability to prevent future pandemics," Gheybreyesus said further, arguing that the WHO has "continue[d] to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies we have requested, and which we continue to request."

"As I have said many times before, all hypotheses about the origins of this pandemic remain on the table," he said. 

The reference appears to indicate that global health officials still believe in the potential credibility of the "lab-leak" origin theory of COVID. That hypothesis claims that the virus leaked out of a high-risk coronavirus lab in Wuhan, China, just several miles from where the first large outbreak of the virus was publicly identified. 

China has repeatedly denied that the virus escaped from a Chinese lab. A team of WHO-affiliated scientists early last year, meanwhile, said that based on their research it was "extremely unlikely" that the virus emerged from a lab.

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