COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory Cannot Be Ruled Out, Leading Scientists Say

COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory Cannot Be Ruled Out, Leading Scientists Say

The origin of the novel coronavirus is still unknown, according to a group of leading scientists. The theory that it was caused by a laboratory leak should be taken seriously until a thorough data-driven investigation proves it incorrect.

Andrew H. Sweet
  • COVID-19, which first appeared in China in late 2019, has killed 3.34 million people, cost the world trillions of dollars in lost income, and disrupted the lives of billions of people.
  • "More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic," said the 18 scientists, including Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, and Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
  • In its final report, a WHO-led team that spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February concluded that the virus was most likely transmitted from bats to humans via another animal and that a lab leak was "extremely unlikely" as a cause.
  • However, there are numerous theories about the virus's origins, including several conspiracy theories.
  • "We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data," the scientists said, adding that an intellectually rigorous and dispassionate investigation needed to take place.

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