The Washington Post
Oct. 11, 2021
In search for covid origins, Hubei caves and wildlife farms draw new scrutiny
The World Health Organization has requested access to China's wildlife farming areas such as the mountains of Enshi prefecture, an agricultural corner of China's Hubei province, calling it a key step in the search for the origins of the coronavirus. Beijing has denied the requests. China's government and the WHO say the likeliest origin of the pandemic is natural transmission through wildlife. Yet little progress has been made in establishing a definitive natural pathway from a bat to a Wuhan market – or for any competing theory, for that matter – because of the Chinese government's refusal to grant scientists access. "We really need to find out more about what viruses are circulating in those bats" in the Enshi caves, said Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona. "That kind of proximity of farmed animals and bats that could be carrying coronaviruses is exactly the kind of thing we worry about."