How did global voices refute the COVID lab-leak misinformation?

By Zhou Fujing (CGTN) 09:01, July 22, 2021

The novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been affecting the world since the beginning of 2020. Theories, hypotheses, even rumors concerning its origin have emerged across the world. While science is making progress in the COVID origin tracing, it must be noted that such process should never be politicized.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that several researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became sick in the fall of 2019 with symptoms similar to "both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses." On June 8, it published the article "U.S. Report Found It Plausible Covid-19 Leaked From Wuhan Lab," which further claimed "the virus leaking from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation."

But this is not true.

A recent research, published by a group of internationally-renowned scientists for the Lancet journal on July 5, 2021, came up with the findings that SARS-CoV-2 most likely originated in nature and not in a laboratory, based on early genetic analysis of the new virus and well-established evidence from previous emerging infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. And more facts have emerged to support the Lancet's theory.

Dr. Danielle Anderson, a former assistant professor at Duke-NUS Medical School once worked at the WIV. She responded to The Wall Street Journal report: "No one she knew at the Wuhan institute was ill toward the end of 2019." Anderson was dumbfounded by the portrayal of the lab and she is convinced no virus was made intentionally to infect people and deliberately released.

Massimo Galli, head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Milan-affiliated Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, Italy, said: "Coronavirus is an unknown virus with no signs of genome engineering inside and the 'lab-leak' theory has no scientific basis at all."

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, the U.S., refuted the theory that the novel coronavirus was engineered in a lab. He said, "Well, the man-made lab origin didn't make any sense to me. The point is that understanding... how the viruses jump from bats to people or bats to another animal to people."

The San Francisco Chronicle posted the editorial "The COVID lab leak theory is still probably wrong" on June 27. It reported, "Baseless accusations of Chinese culpability for the virus have already fueled xenophobia and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Bay Area and across the country. The more mainstream but equally reckless recent exaggeration of the likelihood of a lab leak portends more grim consequences for too many. The political motives and machinations that powered much of the dark speculation about the virus'origins early on continue to play an important role."

A study titled "Analysis of the Genomic Distance Between Bat Coronavirus RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 Reveals Multiple Origins of COVID-19" published by Acta Mathematica Scientia on April 19, 2021 suggested that the virus may have originated in multiple countries almost simultaneously, rather than spreading from China to the rest of the world.

On July 15, 44 countries submitted a joint letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, four countries wrote separate letters, on the COVID-19 origin tracing issue. They stressed that virus origin tracing is a scientific task and opposing politicizing the issue. Countries should better cooperate in the investigation of its origin, instead of falling victim to the misinformation of groundless speculations. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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