Covid may have leaked from Wuhan lab and WHO mustn't dismiss it, warn top scientists from Stanford, Harvard and MITMay 14, 2021
LEADING scientists from top universities have hit out at WHO for throwing out the theory that coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab.
A group of biologists from colleges including Harvard and Stanford have penned a letter stating that such an explanation for the pandemic "remains viable" – despite being largely dismissed.
After a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) visited China – including the Wuhan lab – it was concluded that it was "extremely unlikely" that Covid originated from there.
WHO argued that it was more plausible that came naturally as a "zoonotic spillover" from animals.
But scientists including Washington virologist Jesse Bloom and Stanford microbiologist David Relman – who organized the letter – say researchers simply do not have enough information yet to discard the theory that it was created in the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
"More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic," the letter, published in journal Science, reads.
"Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable."
The scientists also blasted WHO and Beijing's study on the origins of Covid – which was tightly controlled and stage managed by China -saying theories were not "given balanced consideration".
The letter adds: "Although there were no findings in clear support of either a natural spillover or a lab accident, the team assessed a zoonotic spillover from an intermediate host as “likely to very likely,” and a laboratory incident as “extremely unlikely".
"Furthermore, the two theories were not given balanced consideration."
We know that laboratory accidents happen far more often than anyone would like to admit.
The scientist have demanded for hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers be "taken seriously" until there is "sufficient evidence".
"A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest," the letter reads.
"Public health agencies and research laboratories alike need to open their records to the public."
David Relman said those who signed the letter "feel the same way" about there "not being enough information".
"Anyone who asserts a strong opinion one way or another can’t really be basing it on a whole lot of good data, because we just don’t have any,” he told the Times.
"We know that laboratory accidents happen far more often than anyone would like to admit.
"And that includes the very best labs, including those here in the United States."
The lead investigator of the WHO team looking into the origins of Covid has however admitted the lad leak theory is "not off the table".
Dr Peter Ben Embarek, who led the WHO team in Wuhan, said they didn't get "hard facts or detailed data" from the Chinese lab.
Embarek, an expert on animal diseases and food safety, stressed he was skeptical of the theory that the virus emerged from the WIV – but admitted it was still a possibility.
The WIV is known to have been experimenting with bat coronaviruses and creating infectious hybrid strains for tests – and is located just a stone's throw from where the virus first emerged in December 2019.
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