The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the determination of the precise origin of coronavirus is not possible at the current stage, even as speculations around this are still rife. Addressing a virtual press conference on April 21, WHO Regional Director Takeshi Kasai said that no conclusions on the virus' origin could be made at this stage.
The WHO official reiterated that the pandemic is “far from over” in Asia and Pacific is going to be a long battle. Citing his experience of visiting emergency rooms, Kasai said that the coronavirus cases are more than just numbers as many have lost their means to support families.
The origin of the virus has become a matter of debate around the world especially after a Nobel prize-winning scientist claimed that the novel coronavirus originated from a Wuhan laboratory during an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against HIV. During an interview with a French news channel, Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier said that the presence of HIV elements in the genome of SARS-CoV-2 raises suspicion against a possible man-made virus.
Prof Montagnier said that the Wuhan city laboratory - the Wuhan Institute of Virology - has expertise in this area since they have been working on coronaviruses since the early 2000s. However, the claim was on Monday refuted by the institute.
After reports of lab-originated virus gained momentum, the director of Wuhan Institute of Virology Yuan Zhiming denied the claims calling it “impossible”. In an interview with Chinese state media, Yuan said that none of his staff had been infected, and the "whole institute is carrying out research in different areas related to the coronavirus”.
The origin of SARS-CoV-2 is not known but preliminary studies suggested that the bats could be the source since the coronavirus present in bats has a genome that is 96 per cent identical to the novel coronavirus. It is believed that pangolin was the immediate host because the bat coronavirus cannot bind to receptors in human cells, however, there has not been any concrete evidence. The WHO had earlier accepted an explanation from China that the outbreak began at a 'Wet-Market'.