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Taiwan CECC casts doubt on wet market origin for COVID

CECC official speculates COVID could have started somewhere else

Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (Sept. 27) stated that it does not believe the wet market to be the source of the COVID pandemic and suggested that a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan is a possibility.

At a press briefing with officials that took place that day at the Ministry of Health and Welfare during a trip organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC's medical response division, was cited by National Review as saying, "Our speculation is we think the Wuhan Huanan wet market is not the origin." Lo added that the CECC believes that the seafood market is "probably just a very important step in the transmission chain. The origin is somewhere else."

Lo pointed out that the origin of COVID is still uncertain and that the WHO is in the best position to conduct further investigations. Suggesting that the virus may be the result of a laboratory incident, Lo said "Maybe it's still in Wuhan, for example, the laboratory," but he cautioned that "we don't have proof, solid evidence."

The debate into the origins of COVID has split into two camps, one that favors a natural spillover from an as yet unidentified mammal allegedly sold at the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, and another that argues that the fact that documented gain-of-function research being conducted on bat chimeras at low safety level laboratories in Wuhan could have led to a leak of the virus into the community.

Lo's statements indicate that Taiwan has taken a more definitive stance that rules out the seafood market as the origin of the pandemic since former Vice President Chen Chien-jen's (陳建仁) interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2020. At that time, Chen stated that the fact that 10 out of the 42 first cases published in academic journals had no history of going to the seafood market demonstrated that it "may not be the origin of this infection."