As the world crosses the milestone of 4 million Covid deaths and new virus variants are creating chaos in unvaccinated communities, the debate continues over the question of whether the SARS-CoV2 leaked from a research facility. A group of scientists, including a Nobel Laureate and world-leading virologists, has challenged the critical review of the scientific evidence to date, saying there is no evidence that SARS-Cov2 leaked from a research facility.
According to virologist and lead author Edward Holmes, “Our careful and critical analysis of the currently available data provided no evidence for the idea that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a laboratory.” Edward had previously worked with Ebola outbreaks and influenza epidemics.
The group knows that a lab breach cannot be ruled out completely it summarizes the evidence for the natural origins of SARS-CoV-2. According to the group, human activities, such as deforestation and wildlife trade, “have repeatedly put us on a collision course with novel viruses.” They also cautioned that the focus on a highly improbable lab origin is distracting from more urgent scientific tasks such as preparing for the next pandemic and investigating animal sources of SARS-CoV-2.
According to virologist Jonathan Stoye from the Francis Crick Institute, “The current preprint provides a refreshingly clear and reasoned description of the virological events that have taken place during the emergence of the pandemic virus.”
Proof in favour of animal sources of SARS-CoV-2 is found in closely related viruses detected in pangolins and bats and via people interacting with those animals. The review, which is available as a preprint and undergoing peer review, also gives other proofs that are inconsistent with the lab leak theory: SARS-CoV-2 cannot infect lab mice for studying viral infections. In a research facility, if someone artificially engineered the virus in the SARS-CoV-2 sequence, there would be genetic markers of that process that cannot be found.
While many studies related to Covid, which are documented were linked to the now-closed Wuhan wet market, in the end, it “was more of an amplifying event rather than necessarily a true ground zero. So we need to look elsewhere for the viral origins,” public health researcher Dominic Dwyer (part of the WHO investigation) in Wuhan said in February.
As the new review outlines, there is still no epidemiological evidence connecting SARS-CoV-2 or possible precursors to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where researchers study bat-borne coronaviruses.