More investigation is needed to determine the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Jesse Bloom, Alina Chan, Ralph Baric, David Relman and colleagues in this Letter to the editors of Science. "Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable," they say. "Knowing how COVID-19 emerged is critical for informing global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks."
The authors highlight a joint China-World Health Organization (WHO) report into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, some results of which were released in November 2020.
"WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus commented that the report's consideration of evidence supporting a laboratory accident was insufficient," they note. "As scientists with relevant expertise, we agree with the WHO director-general, the United States and 13 other countries, and the European Union that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve," they say. They call for an investigation that is "transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed."
In concluding their Letter, they write: "in this time of unfortunate anti-Asian sentiment in some countries, we note that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was Chinese doctors, scientists, journalists, and citizens who shared with the world crucial information about the spread of the virus-- often at great personal cost. We should show the same determination in promoting a dispassionate science-based discourse on this difficult but important issue."
The Letter may be accessed at: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6543/694.1
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science