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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Why the Pandemic Probably Started in a Lab, in 5 Key Points

Why the Pandemic Probably Started in a Lab, in 5 Key Points

On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci returned to the halls of Congress and testified before the House subcommittee investigating the Covid-19 pandemic. He was questioned about several topics related to the government’s handling of Covid-19, including how the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he directed until retiring in 2022, supported risky virus work at a Chinese institute whose research may have caused the pandemic.

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Author Alina Chan is a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard, and a co-author of “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19.”

Summary:

  1. The SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged in Wuhan, where the Wuhan Institute of Virology studies SARS-like viruses found in bats 1,000 miles away. It left no trace at its source or along its potential journey to Wuhan.
  2. In 2018, the Wuhan lab, working with U.S. partners, proposed creating viruses with the key feature that makes SARS-CoV-2 so infectious – a furin cleavage site. Less than two years later, the pandemic began.
  3. The Wuhan lab worked on SARS-like viruses under biosafety conditions that were too low to contain an airborne virus as infectious as SARS-CoV-2.
  4. The theory that the virus came from the Huanan Seafood Market is not well supported. The market was likely a superspreader event after the virus was already circulating.
  5. Key evidence expected if the virus emerged naturally from wildlife is still missing after over 4 years, unlike previous coronavirus outbreaks.

Chan argues a lab accident is the most parsimonious explanation given current evidence. She also shows that while the U.S. government did not directly fund the specific research that may have created SARS-CoV-2, federal agencies did provide funding and support to the Wuhan lab for many years to study and enhance SARS-like coronaviruses, with insufficient oversight and safety precautions. 

Chan calls for a thorough investigation, including of exchanges between the Wuhan lab and U.S. partners in 2018-2019, to identify how such risky research was allowed and prevent future pandemics. 

This post was originally published on this site

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