In search of covid origins, scientists reignite polarizing debate over Wuhan ‘lab leak’
Ground Report | New Delhi: After America, Britain’s intelligence agency has also believed that it is ‘possible’ that the Covid epidemic may have started after the virus leaked from China’s laboratory. Britain’s vaccine minister Nadeem Zahavi has demanded a full investigation from the World Health Organization to find out the source of the corona virus, after sources quoted it in the British newspaper Sunday Times.
Zhavi said, “It is important that the WHO be allowed to complete its investigation so that the source of the corona virus can be found. We should not leave any stone unturned in this. ” Conservative MP Tom Tuggett also reacted to this report without delay.
He said, “Wuhan’s silence is disturbing. In order to save ourselves in the future and know what actually happened, it is necessary to open the layers. ” Tugndt said, “This means that the World Health Organization and partners around the world start the investigation together.”
Scientists at the Wuhan Institute have collected thousands of bat coronavirus specimens and recorded them in databases closed to inspection. Could one of those viruses have escaped, perhaps after a “gain of function” experiment that made it more dangerous?
Daszak, who considers these theories to be misleading, was the only American in a 10-member team that the World Health Organization (WHO) sent to China this winter to investigate the origins of the virus. The group concluded their work without gaining access to the databases of the Wuhan Institute, but dismissed the hypothesis of the laboratory leak as unlikely. However, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, indicated that the hypothesis “requires further investigation.”
On Friday, 18 virus and immunology experts published a letter in the journal Science demanding further investigation. “The theories of accidental release from a laboratory and zoonotic spread remain viable,” they said, adding that the Wuhan Institute should open its records. One of the signers is a North Carolina virologist who has worked directly with leading scientists at the Wuhan Institute.
Many leading virologists still believe that “zoonotic transmission” (from a bat or some other animal to a human) remains the most likely origin story. However, the lack of evidence for this is concerning, 17 months after COVID appeared, said Stanley Perlman, a virologist at the University of Iowa who was not among the signers of the Science letter.
The fact that no bat or other animal has been found infected with something similar to the COVID-19 virus, which suddenly swept Wuhan at the end of 2019, “has once again put the hypothesis of the laboratory leak on the table “Although there is no evidence to support that theory either, he said.
American intelligence agency also said something similar
Just a few days ago, a US intelligence report claimed that three researchers from Wuhan Lab had fallen ill before the epidemic and their symptoms resembled those of covid-19. After this report came out, US President Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to find out how the corona virus spread to humans within 90 days.
However, China had termed this report as ‘completely false’ and said that not a single staff of Wuhan Lab has been infected with Corona till date. The source of the corona virus has been debated since the beginning of the epidemic. Some scientists and leaders had initially feared that the virus might have originated from a lab in Wuhan, China. Wuhan’s Institute of Virology is near the seafood market that became the first center of corona infection at the end of 2019.
What did the WHO say in its report?
The lab leak theory of the origin of the corona virus has been debated since the beginning and China has always rejected it. China has also been accused of not cooperating in the investigation related to the virus. Earlier this year, a team from the World Health Organization went to Wuhan and tried to investigate it. However, the WHO team said in its report after returning from Wuhan that there was not enough evidence to prove that the corona virus leaked from a lab in China.
A controversy with roots
The scientific conflict over the laboratory hypothesis is partly rooted in a debate over gain-of-function experiments, work that could theoretically lead to the creation and release of more infectious or deadly organisms. In these experiments, scientists in a laboratory can, for example, test the ability of a virus to mutate by exposing it to different types of cells or to mice genetically modified with traits of the human immune system.
At least six of the 18 signatories to the Science letter are part of the Cambridge Working Group, whose members care about the release of pathogens from the growing number of virus labs around the world.