Long rejected as a fantastic conspiracy theory favored by the far right, the idea that COVID arose from a laboratory leak in Wuhan has been gaining strength in the United States.
The government’s position has become agnosticism in recent weeks, with pandemic adviser Anthony Fauci and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky saying they are open to all possibilities.
“We need to get to the bottom and we need a fully transparent process from China, we need the WHO (World Health Organization) to help with this issue,” Andy Slavitt, White House COVID senior adviser, said on Tuesday .
The demand for more research contrasts with the onset of the pandemic, when scientists quickly gathered around the idea that the virus was spread from bats through an intermediate animal.
The problem is that this link has not yet been found, Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Monday, and not for lack of trying.
Earlier coronaviruses that passed to humans, SARS and MERS, were quickly traced back to civets and camels.
“The question for a lot of people will be when are there too many coincidences?” added Gottlieb.
Citing a U.S. intelligence report, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that a trio from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was hospitalized with a seasonal illness in November 2019.
China reported the existence of an outbreak of pneumonia cases in Wuhan to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019.
Beijing rejected the magazine’s report as “totally false.”
On Tuesday, the United States and other countries called for more in-depth research into the origins of the pandemic, after an international mission to China earlier this year was unfinished.
A delayed report by a team of experts sent by the WHO to Wuhan and its Chinese counterparts did not draw firm conclusions about the origins of the pandemic.
It was said that the most likely scenario was a natural origin and that a theory about the virus escaping from a laboratory was “extremely unlikely.”
After publishing the report, however, the head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, insisted that all theories remained on the table.
And the calls from scientists for more transparency are growing.
“We need to take the hypotheses about natural and laboratory spills seriously until we have enough data,” a group of researchers from top American universities wrote in a letter published in the journal Science in mid-May.
The virus has caused more than 3.4 million lives worldwide and determining how it happened to humans is considered crucial to preventing the next pandemic.
In the United States, the hypothesis of a leak of the Chinese laboratory virus was previously fueled primarily by Donald Trump and his acolytes, and the issue became embroiled in the country’s divided politics.
“Now everyone agrees that I was right when I soon called Wuhan as a source for COVID-19,” the former president said on Tuesday.
“It was obvious to me from the start, but I was very criticized, as usual. Now everyone says ‘I was right.’ Thank you!”
However, many experts remain cautious.
“Many of us believe that this is more likely to be a natural fact, as has happened before,” Fauci told reporters on Tuesday.
“But we don’t know 100% the answer to that.”
The truth may never be known, Gottlieb said. Evidence to support a lab leak will not appear unless there is a whistleblower or regime change in China.
© 2021 AFP
Citation: COVID Laboratory Origin Theory Gains Strength in the United States (2021, May 25), retrieved May 25, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-covid-lab-theory -traction-gain.html
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