Where did the virus behind COVID-19 come from? It’s a question that’s dogged researchers since the early days of the pandemic. Most maintain it jumped from bats to humans in a Chinese market. Some claim it could have other origins – in particular, a breakout from a lab working with viruses.
Getting answers hasn’t been easy. China has been guarded. And scientists warn that the window to finding COVID’s true origin is closing fast.
The debate that has turned highly-political, at times threatening to overshadow management of the pandemic itself.
Solving the puzzle is still critical. Determining the origin of Sars-Cov-2 could help outbreaks of new diseases, and stop future pandemics before they start.
A new US-intelligence report also fails to settle on an origin theory. But it does give a small peek into the ongoing debate. An unclassified summary of that report says outright that it’s unlikely the virus was developed as a biological weapon, or that Chinese officials even knew about the virus. Most intelligence agencies in the US still think it was a transmission that occurred outside of the lab. But the report doesn’t dismiss the lab-accident theory, saying one agency concluded that account was more probable, while two other agencies said they couldn’t reject the idea.
The report said more evidence is needed, in particular early clinical samples of the virus. That appears unlikely to happen, and it means the debate over origin will continue.
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