Comments on World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Report

The World Health Organization’s recent report on COVID-19 speculates a bat origin. However, its findings are seriously flawed and questioned by the Biden administration according to the Wall Street Journal. Former CDC Director, Robert Redfield, in his CNN interview, still believes it escaped from a lab in China. The origin clearly remains unresolved.

A review of scientific literature reveals that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has not been found in bats, and there are no reports of transmission from a bat to a human.

Bats are an ancient group of mammals, so it is not surprising that their viruses have been involved in viral evolution. Claims of 96% relatedness between bat coronaviruses and the one causing COVID-19 are highly misleading. We are equally related to chimpanzees though quite distinct!

Most viruses are yet to be described, so new ones are easily found almost anywhere. Coronaviruses, the group responsible for SARS, MERS, and now COVID-19, are found in most animals, even in whales, birds and reptiles. They are also the cause of common colds in humans. Simply because bats are easy to sample in large numbers, and have few defenders, they are prime targets for lucrative “virus hunter” speculation. See my op-ed, A Viral Witch Hunt, published in Issues in Science and Technology. Recent research shows bats have no more viruses than other animals, and they have an outstanding record of not transmitting disease to humans. For anyone who simply doesn’t handle bats, disease risks are incalculably small.

An intermediate horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis). Because such bats harbor evolutionary relatives of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, they have been widely speculated to be the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other potential origins have not been investigated.