Story at a glance:

  • The theory that COVID-19 was created in a Chinese laboratory and it somehow leaked can’t yet be entirely ruled out, a group of scientists says.
  • The scientists want more investigative research into the lab leak theory.
  • A WHO exploration team ruled that it most likely came from a bat.

A group of prominent scientists have agreed not to rule out the possibility that the coronavirus was human-made in a laboratory, pending additional information.

Until there is proof that signals otherwise, the theory that COVID-19 got created in a Chinese laboratory and it was somehow leaked into the world is something to take into serious consideration, the scientists say, Reuters reported.


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In its earliest development, the virus was first reported to be in China in 2019, however, like Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Cambridge, said in a letter to the journal Science: "More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic."

Seventeen other scientists, including Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, agree with his remarks.

"Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable," the team of scientists, including David Relman, professor of microbiology at Stanford, said in the letter.

The authors explained in the letter that the World Health Organization's (WHO) investigation had not made a "balanced consideration" on the theory that the virus was created from a laboratory and the incident happened.

The report, which was inclusive of Chinese scientists, noted that a WHO-led unit was in and around Wuhan in January and February for about a month, and the team concluded that the virus could have been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal. The team also said the possibility of a lab leak was "extremely unlikely."

"We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data," the scientists wrote. "In this time of unfortunate anti-Asian sentiment in some countries, we note that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was Chinese doctors, scientists, journalists, and citizens who shared with the world crucial information about the spread of the virus—often at great personal cost."


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Published on May 14, 2021