On March 30, the WHO published a report on its investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2. While it is nearly impossible to definitively identify the exact source of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report describes information collected during the WHO team’s visit to China in January and February 2021. The investigators considered a broad scope of evidence, including epidemiological data, genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 specimens, environmental sampling from animal markets and laboratories, and interviews with health officials and laboratory researchers. The report outlines the evidence for 4 potential scenarios: (1) zoonotic transmission direct from an animal reservoir to humans, (2) zoonotic transmission via an intermediate host, (3) transmission to humans via cold/food chain products, and (4) laboratory accident. The investigators indicated that spillover from animals to humans via an intermediate host was the most likely scenario, and a laboratory accident was determined to be “extremely unlikely.” Based on a review of potential cases of COVID-19 from October and November 2019 (identified retrospectively), before the first cases were reported in Wuhan, the researchers determined that it is unlikely the virus was spreading in the community prior to December 2019. Because the report does not provide clear-cut answers regarding the pandemic’s origin, experts around the world continue to espouse a range of theories and speculation, including that the virus escaped containment in a laboratory in Wuhan. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented that the investigation was not “extensive enough” and that further research is necessary to more fully characterize the circumstances surrounding the emergence of SARS-CoV-2. The report has been described as a “compromise” between the international and Chinese members of the WHO-sponsored team, a fact seized upon by some in their critiques of the team’s findings. The terms of the agreement between China and the WHO outlined a collaborative effort, as opposed to an independent, external investigation. In particular, some experts are calling attention to a lack of transparency by Chinese officials and researchers, and the close professional relationship between some of the WHO team members and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
CSSE is reporting 30,987,371 positive cases in the U.S. and 559,965 deaths. DOH reported 2,104,686 confirmed cases in Florida today, with 33,906 deaths.