Coronavirus origins still a mystery 3 years into COVID-19 pandemic


Many scientists believe the animal-to-human theory of the coronavirus remains much more plausible. They theorize it emerged in the wild and jumped from bats to humans, either directly or through another animal.

In a 2021 research paper in the journal Cell, scientists said the COVID-19 virus, is the ninth documented coronavirus to infect humans – and all the previous ones originated in animals.

Two studies, published last year by the journal Science, bolstered the animal origin theory. That research found that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was likely the early epicenter. Scientists concluded that the virus likely spilled from animals into people two separate times.

“The scientific literature contains essentially nothing but original research articles that support a natural origin of this virus pandemic,” said Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona who has extensively studied COVID-19’s origins.

He said the fact that others in the intelligence community looked at the same information as the DOE and “it apparently didn’t move the needle speaks volumes”. He said he takes such intelligence assessments with a grain of salt because he does not think the people making them “have the scientific expertise … to really understand the most important evidence that they need to understand”.

The US should be more transparent and release the new intelligence that apparently swayed the DOE, Worobey said.


The DOE conclusion comes to light as House Republicans have been using their new majority power to investigate all aspects of the pandemic, including the origin, as well as what they contend were officials’ efforts to conceal the fact that it leaked from a lab in Wuhan. Earlier this month, Republicans sent letters to Dr Anthony Fauci, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, Health Secretary Xavier Beccera and others as part of their investigative efforts.

The now retired Fauci, who served as the country’s top infectious disease expert under both Republican and Democratic presidents, has called the GOP criticism nonsense.

Mike McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has asked the Biden administration to provide Congress with “a full and thorough” briefing on the report and the evidence behind it.

Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, emphasized that President Joe Biden believes it’s important to know what happened “so we can better prevent future pandemics” but that such research “must be done in a safe and secure manner and as transparent as possible to the rest of the world”.

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