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Australian scientist defends China in wake of WHO probe into Covid-19's origins

A microbiologist who has been investigating the source of Covid-19 in Wuhan says there has been “a lot of openness” from Chinese authorities.

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Australian microbiologist Dominic Dwyer, one of the WHO investigators sent to Wuhan to search for the cause of the global pandemic, says a laboratory leak is the least likely scenario. Source: Q+A

Australian microbiologist Professor Dominic Dwyer was one of 10 people sent to Wuhan in February by the World Health Organization (WHO) to understand the origins of the SARS-Cov2 virus, which causes Covid-19.

Despite global concerns China would be unwilling to engage in a proper investigation into the source of the outbreak, Dwyer disagrees, saying there “was a lot of openness” from officials.

“I think in general, the information we got was extremely helpful,” he told Jack Tame on Q+A.

“Now, of course, there could be stuff that's hidden. But, no one would know that necessarily, of course."

However, in an unusual move, authorities only provided a summary of what had happened in the early days of the outbreak, rather than patient-by-patient data which could be expected in New Zealand.

While the research team was eventually given raw data, the two week trip was not long enough to go through it properly.

“I think that there'll be ongoing work to further explore some of this raw data, and that hopefully will allay the anxieties of people who think things were deliberately hidden, which I don't think there were.”

Theories regarding the source of coronavirus have been swirling ever since the outbreak, including the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory.

“Some of those ideas made common sense and some of those ideas have been driven by politics around the world,” Dwyer said.

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The comments came at the conclusion of a joint mission in China. Source: Breakfast

While the laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely”, the University of Sydney professor said bats have likely played a role.

“… the source is probably in bats because they carry a lot of these sorts of viruses, and then it's gone from the bats into some sort of intermediate animal, whether that's a pangolin or some other wildlife, we're not sure, and then from that into humans.

"And then it's human behaviour, of course, that then spreads the virus around.

“We know that somewhere out there is the parent virus… it’s just that no one’s found it yet.”