‘Extremely unlikely’ Covid-19 escaped from Wuhan lab: WHO mission member

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Sydney, Feb 23 | It is “extremely unlikely” that SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan, a member of a World Health Organization (WHO) expert team sent to China on a Covid-19 origin-tracing mission said.

“The most politically sensitive option we looked at was the virus escaping from a laboratory,” said Professor Dominic Dwyer from University of Sydney in an article on The Conversation, a publisher of research-based news and analysis. “We concluded this was extremely unlikely”, he said, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology “is an impressive research facility, and looks to be run well, with due regard to staff health,” said Dwyer. The professor said he has learned that blood samples of the scientists are routinely taken and stored, and “no evidence of antibodies to the coronavirus was found”.

A clinical epidemiology group inside the team, according to Dwyer, looked at a large number of relative data and information, and “found no clear evidence of substantial circulation of Covid-19 in Wuhan during the latter part of 2019 before the first case”.

“We talked to our Chinese counterparts — scientists, epidemiologists, doctors — over the four weeks the WHO mission was in China. We were in meetings with them for up to 15 hours a day, so we became colleagues, even friends,” Dwyer said. “This allowed us to build respect and trust in a way you couldn’t necessarily do via Zoom or email,” he noted.

The Australian expert said the virus was most likely of animal origin but not necessarily at a wet market in Wuhan. “It probably crossed over to humans from bats, via an as-yet-unknown intermediary animal at an unknown location,” he said, adding that the experts “are still working to confirm the exact chain of events that led to the current pandemic.”

Dwyer said the WHO mission was only phase one of the investigation. “Investigators will also look further afield for data, to investigate evidence the virus was circulating in Europe, for instance, earlier in 2019,” he noted.

“Investigators will continue to test wildlife and other animals in the region for signs of the virus,” he said. “And we’ll continue to learn from our experiences to improve how we investigate the next pandemic.”

Source: IANS

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Global Strategist and Philanthropist Drummi Bhatt returns to her homeland to bring about a vernacular infotainment content revolution

Global Strategist and Philanthropist Drummi Bhatt returns to her homeland to bring about a vernacular infotainment content revolution

Drummi Bhatt has successfully donned many hats including that of a global strategy professional, mentor, and investor to early-stage startups encouraging women entrepreneurship, and a philanthropist.

Drummi currently leads Market Intelligence and Strategy team at Mitsubishi Power, USA building corporate-level strategies for global markets. Drummi is also the founder of KarmaKonnect, a Woman and Rural Empowerment Non-Profit Organisation which works for projects in remote rural, tribal, and conflict areas.

Her philanthropy work has taken her to various corners of India, including, far end corners of Leh, Ladakh, Telangana, and remote areas of Chambal. During these visits, she got mesmerized by culturally rich, vernacular, and diverse, the true “Bharat”.

During her interaction across the country, she got enchanted by the whirlwind of talent residing across Bharat, which is not restricted to a language, city, or just tier-1 cities but is found in abundance all across tier-2, tier-3 cities, and rural-tribal clusters.

With OTT platforms ruling the world in 2020, Drummi decided to bring her strategic insights and data analytics strength to this field by joining hands with seasoned entrepreneurs, Rahul Narvekar and Narendra Firodia, to launch its kind, vernacular OTT platform, Letsflix.

In 2019, Drummi, Rahul, and Narendra have successfully launched India’s first vernacular infotainment app, LetsUp, which now caters to 1.5 million users and in 7 vernacular languages, a feat achieved by none. The trio has now been passionately working towards creating and delivering vernacular content for every viewer in India with Letsflix.

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