Dr. Peter Embarek, who led the WHO probe in China, now admits that the world’s first Covid-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working in a Wuhan lab. He has previously said this was unlikely.
The world’s first Covid-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working for a Wuhan lab in China, a World Health Organization chief has admitted.
Dr Embarek made the shocking claim despite initially dismissing the notion that the virus escaped from a lab as extremely unlikely.
Now, Embarek has admitted that the lab leak theory could have happened, suggesting that a Chinese researcher could have been infected by a bat while taking samples in connection with research at a Wuhan lab.
Embarek told Denmark’s television station TV2: ‘An employee who was infected in the field by taking samples falls under one of the probable hypotheses.
‘This is where the virus jumps directly from a bat to a human.’
He explained: ‘In that case, it would then be a laboratory worker instead of a random villager or another person who has regular contact with bats. So it is actually in the probable category.’
The Danish scientist stressed that the WHO investigators found no direct evidence of this.
But China has long been accused at home and abroad of covering up the initial outbreak and concealing information when it first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019.
Dr Embarek’s comments are a marked reversal on those he made while still in China on the fact-finding mission when he called on scientists to stop investigating the possibility the virus escaped from a lab.
He also initially insisted there is no evidence of transmission ‘in Wuhan or elsewhere’ before December 2019.
But a week later he backtracked and said his team had discovered there were at least 13 Covid variants in Wuhan in December, suggesting the virus had been in development for some time to allow these different strains to develop.
He also revealed that up to 1,000 people in Wuhan could have been infected in early December – an estimate based on Chinese data that showed 174 severe cases of the disease.
Did Covid-19 originate in Chinese laboratory?
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been collecting numerous coronaviruses from bats ever since the SARS outbreak in 2002.
They have also published papers describing how these bat viruses have interacted with human cells.
US Embassy staff visited the lab in 2018 and ‘had grave safety concerns’ over the protocols which were being observed at the facility.
The lab is just eight miles from the Huanan wet market which is where the first cluster of infections erupted in Wuhan.
The market is just a few hundred yards from another lab called the Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (WHCDC).
The WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in its labs, including some 605 bats.
Those who support the theory argue that Covid-19 could have leaked from either or both of these facilities and spread to the wet market.
Most argue that this would have been a virus they were studying rather than one which was engineered.
Last year a bombshell paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology recounted how bats once attacked a researcher at the WHCDC and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’
One of the researchers at the WHCDC described quarantining himself for two weeks after a bat’s blood got on his skin, according to the report. That same man also quarantined himself after a bat urinated on him.
And he also mentions discovering a live tick from a bat – parasites known for their ability to pass infections through a host animal’s blood.
‘The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital (Figure 1, bottom) where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic.’ The report says.
‘It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.’