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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chinese officials briefed diplomats in Beijing on Friday on four possible ways the coronavirus arrived in Wuhan, AP reports.

Why it matters: The briefing comes ahead of the release of the World Health Organization's report on the virus' origin, and "is based on a visit earlier this year by a WHO team of international experts to Wuhan," the AP writes.

  • "The experts worked with Chinese counterparts, and both sides have to agree on the final report. It’s unclear when it will come out," according to AP.

Details: Feng Zijian, deputy director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, identified the four possible origins:

  1. A bat carrying the virus infected a person.
  2. A bat infected a mammal who then gave it to a person.
  3. The virus came from shipments of cold or frozen food.
  4. It leaked from a Wuhan laboratory that was researching viruses.

Experts said it is most likely that the virus originated from the two animal routes or from the cold food shipment, adding that a "lab leak was viewed as extremely unlikely," AP notes.

The big picture: "The debate over the origins of the coronavirus has been ongoing since the start of the pandemic, causing rising tensions between the U.S. and China," Axios' Zachary Basu reports.

What's next: WHO said on Friday that the report was finalized and was currently getting fact-checked and translated.

  • “I expect that in the next few days, that whole process will be completed and we will be able to release it publicly,” WHO expert Peter Ben Embarek said, per AP.

Go deeper

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer CEO says company will submit data for children's vaccine to FDA in "days" — The new booster dilemma — U.S. has enough COVID vaccines to meet demand for kids, boosters.
  2. Health: New York vaccine mandate for state health workers goes into effect — The antivirals are (hopefully) coming — Long COVID: A disabling disease — Montana VA medical center to treat non-veterans amid COVID surge.
  3. Politics: Federal judge upholds Cincinnati health care system's COVID vaccine mandate — Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit.
  4. Education: UT docs show faculty frustration amid Gov. Abbott's latest COVID orders — Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senators grill top Pentagon leaders over Biden's Afghanistan exit

Photo: Carolone Brehman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, are testifying before Congress for the first time since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The latest: Austin said in his opening statement that military leaders began planning for a non-combatant evacuation of Kabul as early as the spring, and that this is the only reason U.S. troops were able to start the operation so quickly when the Taliban captured the city. "Was it perfect? Of course not," Austin acknowledged.

Congress must raise the debt limit by Oct. 18, Yellen warns

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a press conference at the Capitol on Sept. 23. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter Tuesday that the United States will likely begin to default on its loans shortly after Oct. 18 if Congress fails to raise or suspend the debt ceiling by then.

Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its financial obligations, and Yellen has previously warned that doing so would cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets.