A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) and a joint Chinese mission investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China, said that it is extremely unlikely the coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped from animals to humans.

“Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research,” WHO’s Peter Ben Embarek said in a press conference Tuesday.

The WHO team, who began the investigation after a two-week quarantine and more than a year after COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, released the first details of their month-long fact-finding mission in China. They suggested that the virus is likely to have originated in animals and that a transmission via frozen food is a possibility that warrants further investigation.

Data suggests that COVID-19 could have been circulating in other regions before being identified in Wuhan, according to Dr. Liang Wannian, the Chinese lead on the joint international team of scientists. “This indicates the possibility of the missed reported circulation in other regions,” Wannian said.

The WHO team’s mission is intended to be an initial step delving into the origins of the virus.

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