COVID-19 most likely originates from nature: Finnish broadcaster

HELSINKI, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- COVID-19 has originated from nature, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported on Friday, citing Finnish researchers' findings.

Nurses and healthcare workers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 121RN distribute backpacks to children during a back to school event offering school supplies, Covid-19 vaccinations, face masks, and other resources for children and their families at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA in Los Angeles, California on August 7, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

This conclusion contradicted a recent report by U.S. news website The Intercept, which claimed to have obtained documents that allegedly detailed the work of a U.S.-based health organization in using federal money to fund research in bat-borne coronavirus by China's Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Citing these "documents," The Intercept claimed that the current COVID-19 pandemic might have begun in a lab accident.

However, Yle said Finnish virus researchers it has interviewed believe the report by The Intercept lacked evidence to support its suggestion that the virus has escaped from the Chinese lab.

"The article does not in any way prove that the virus has escaped from the laboratory," Matti Jalasvuori, academy research fellow of the Department of Biological and Environmental Science at Finland's University of Jyvaskyla, was quoted as saying by Yle.

"It is much easier to find a virus that is easily transmitted from person to person in nature than to 'make' a similar new type of virus in the laboratory," Jalasvuori said.

He added that the Chinese laboratory has been carrying out studies that will provide new knowledge about different viruses in nature, and will enable people to prepare for future pandemics.

Echoing Jalasvuori, Minna Hankaniemi, postdoctoral researcher specializing in virology at Tampere University, said The Intercept's report did not give any proof that COVID-19 has escaped from the Chinese laboratory.

The laboratory's studies have been "completely normal" and "important," she said.