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Unanswered questions about the Wuhan epidemic

Unanswered questions about the Wuhan epidemic

As the world approaches two years after the first reported cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, we still know a lot more about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 than we do.

Why is this important: Accurately identifying the causes of COVID-19 will go a long way in informing what can and should be done to prevent the next pandemic.

news trend: Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal pointed The World Health Organization is relaunching its stalled investigation into the origins of COVID-19, while A separate academic team examines the same question solved due to bias concerns.

  • At this point, there is no evidence for either of the two main theories – that SARS-CoV-2 appeared in animals before spreading to humans, or that it came from research. Lab tests conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – but plenty of circumstantial evidence for both. .

what are they saying: Thursday morning science magazine Meets A rare round table brings together academics from both sides of the debate.

  • The main problem is “we can’t determine how the virus got to Wuhan,” said Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, adding that “there is no significant spread or closely related viruses.” SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan”.
  • This fact — and that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has worked with samples of bats that are at high risk for harboring COVID-like coronaviruses — “is the reason why I still think a leak in the lab is highly likely,” Bloom said.

the other side: Michael Worby, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, argued that there are “many other opportunities for non-research activities to bring these viruses” to Wuhan, such as the fort’s wildlife trade in China.

  • Linfa Wang, a professor at Duke-NUS College of Medicine in Singapore, argued that political differences between the United States and China made it difficult to fairly value the assets.
  • “You are guilty because you are in Wuhan,” he said. “That’s it.”
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At the end of the line: As time runs out to gather more evidence – and the Chinese government bans more efforts – the chances of finding a definitive answer dwindle.

  • But a lesson for the future is clear, as Bloom said: “We need more transparency.”