In the letter, published Thursday, May 13 in the review La science, the authors say that two theories – that the virus was accidentally released from a lab or that it spread naturally from animals – “both remain viable.”“Knowing how COVID-19 came about is essential to inform global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks,” they wrote.
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The authors, who include 18 eminent scientists, are not the first in the scientific community to call for a further investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus. But many previous statements on the matter have clearly favored one theory over the other, while the authors of the new letter have tried to remain neutral, arguing that the current evidence is not strong enough to favor either. the other theory, according to Le New York Times.
“Most of the talk you hear about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 at this point, I think, comes from the relatively small number of people who feel very sure of their opinions,” Jesse Bloom, lead author of the letter and associate professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which studies the evolution of the virus, told The Times. “Anyone who makes statements with a high level of certainty about this is simply beyond what is possible with the available evidence. “
Other authors of the letter include Dr. David Relman, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University; Ralph Baric, professor of epidemiology and microbiology at the University of North Carolina who has spent decades studying coronaviruses; and Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, which uses mathematical modeling to study the transmission of infectious diseases.
The origins of SARS-CoV-2 have been hotly debated since the pandemic started, and some experts have said we may never know exactly where the virus came from, Live Science has already reported.
In March 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the results of a months-long investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, conducted in partnership with Chinese scientists. the report concluded that an overflow of fauna through an intermediate host was the “likely to very likely route” for initial transmission to humans, while accidental laboratory introduction was “extremely unlikely”.
However, many countries were quick to criticize the report for its lack of transparency and incomplete data, according to CNN. The United States and 13 other governments have since issued a statement expressing concern over the WHO’s findings.
The new letter notes that in the WHO report, “the two theories were not considered in a balanced way” and that “there were no clear supporting conclusions nor an overflow. natural or laboratory accident ”.
“An appropriate investigation must be transparent, objective, data-driven, comprising broad expertise, subject to independent oversight and managed responsibly to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest,” said the authors of the scientific letter .
Some experts not involved in the letter said they supported the need for further investigation into the origins of the virus, but disagreed that the two hypotheses currently have proof equal to their support.
“There is more evidence (both genomic and historical) that this was the result of a zoonotic emergence rather than a laboratory accident,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Canadian Vaccine Organization and of Infectious Diseases from the University of Saskatchewan.
Originally posted on Live Science.