A joint World Health Organization-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the coronavirus mostly likely was transmitted from bats to humans through another animal, according to The Associated Press. The study also determined that a lab leak as being a part of the cause (as has been circulated via conspiracy theories) is “extremely unlikely.”
Though the report provides more detail on the reasoning behind the researchers’ conclusions, the findings offer little new insight into how the virus first emerged and leave many questions unanswered. The study also says the role played by a seafood market where human cases were first identified was uncertain.
The joint report is expected to be made public Tuesday, and is being closely watched since its findings on the origins of the virus could help scientists prevent future pandemics. However, it is an extremely sensitive situation, as China does not want any further suggestions that they are to blame for the current pandemic.
Last year, an investigation done by the Associated Press found the Chinese government strictly controlling all research into its origins.
The report is inconclusive on whether the outbreak started at a Wuhan seafood market that had one of the earliest clusters of human cases in December 2019. Research published last year suggested the market may have merely served to further spread the disease, but that it was not likely the source. The seafood market was an early suspect because some stalls sold a range of unusual animals — including everything from bamboo rats to deer, often frozen, as well as live crocodiles.