A team of scientists responsible for determining the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic released its first report on Thursday, saying that all hypotheses remain on the table — including a possible laboratory incident.
The 27-member advisory group convened by the World Health Organization said available data suggests the virus jumped from animals to humans, but there are still gaps in “key pieces of data.”
The most closely genetically related viruses were found in bats in China and Laos, according to the report, but a “spill-over event to humans” has not been identified.
The preliminary report also said that it is important to evaluate the possibility that COVID-19 was introduced into the human population through a laboratory incident because lab leaks have happened in the past. And since there is no new data available, the group said the lab-leak theory cannot be ruled out.