Peter Ben Embark said that the talks covered allegations widely reported by the international media, a day after his team and his team visited the Wuhan virus lab.
Without delving into specific hypotheses, Ben Embarek described some of them as far from any rational conception, stressing that investigators would not waste time chasing the most bizarre allegations.As the food safety specialist at the World Health Organization of the United Nations explained by phone from Wuhan, the city in central China where the first cases of the Coronavirus were recorded in December 2019, “The discussions were very frank.”
“We discussed … a lot of famous theories and so on, and what happened to explain them,” added Ben Embark, who worked in the WHO office in Beijing for two years starting in 2009.
In addition, the visit of the Wuhan Institute of Virology on Wednesday was one of the most prominent tasks on the experts’ agenda due to hypotheses that sparked controversy by proposing that it is the source of the epidemic.
Scientists in this laboratory are researching some of the world’s most dangerous diseases, including coronavirus strains that infect bats similar to the virus that causes Covid-19.
There was speculation at the beginning of the epidemic that the virus may have leaked by mistake from the laboratory in Wuhan, although there is no evidence to support such a hypothesis.
Then-US President Donald Trump and his supporters took advantage of these rumors and amplified them through conspiracy theories that China deliberately leaked the virus.
Ben Embark also said that discussions with laboratory scientists were useful for understanding the position of the laboratory staff “regarding many of these statements and allegations that everyone saw and read about in the news.” And he seemed to reject some of these assumptions as much of the speculation that they would be “excellent scenarios for good movies and series for the coming years.”
He also emphasized that the WHO investigators “follow science and follow facts” to reach their conclusions. “If we start chasing mirage and running after him here and there, we will not make any progress at all,” he told AFP.
“So this is also an important step that we were able to understand the source of these stories … and we are able, in a rational way … to explain why some of them are completely beside logic, why some of them can have meaning, and why some of them can be explained or cannot be explained.”
The team also visited the Institute’s B4 laboratory, which is subject to the highest biosafety requirements in Asia, as it is equipped to deal with the most dangerous Class 4 pathogens such as Ebola.
Ben Embark said that the trip to Wuhan, which is scheduled to end next week, will not lead to a final conclusion on how the virus was transmitted from animals to humans.
He said, “We will not reach a final complete understanding of the origin of this virus, but it will be a good first step … It will be the best, strong and very clear way to explain how we can proceed.”
In addition, the Corona virus has killed at least 2,269,346 people in the world and infected more than 104,350,880 people, since the end of December 2019, according to a census conducted by Agence France-Presse based on official sources, Thursday.