Why we will never know the origin of COVID-19 for some

OLDhina was quick to dismiss the new COVID-19 “lab leak” theory that emerged after a The Wall Street Journal report over the weekend, the US Department of Energy concluded, with “low confidence”, that the virus causing the pandemic most likely originated in a Chinese laboratory.

Mao Ning, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters Monday that “some parties” should “stop smearing China” and that the “lab leak” theory has been authoritatively disproved. “Tracing the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is about science and should not be politicized,” Mao said. (The US government is still investigating the origin of COVID-19 and both the FBI and the Department of Energy have determined that a laboratory leak is the most likely source of the virus.)

Researchers around the world have been working since the outbreak began in 2020 to determine the source of the virus. Experts believe that knowing how the pandemic started can significantly aid efforts to end it—and prevent future global pandemics. But three years and nearly seven million people died After that, there is still little certainty as to whether the virus naturally infected humans first at a seafood market in Wuhan. Scientists initially believed that, or escape from the lab, as the Department of Energy is now believed to be based on new, undisclosed intelligence. And at this point, let’s agree that due to the tense atmosphere surrounding such investigations, we can never be sure.

Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “The origin investigation is over-politicized, who noted that the disclosure of the US Department of Energy report was not disclosed. comes as US-China tensions have increased in recent months. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find out the exact cause of the epidemic. I’d say it’s almost impossible now, with all this delay, with the politicization of the issue.”

At the start of the pandemic, Republicans in the US, most notably former President Donald Trump, were quick to promote laboratory leak theory, asserting that China is to blame for the outbreak. But while that suggestion might seem at first thought engine for some—and in line with the rise of anti-China rhetoric—since then, more and more people have acknowledged that the theory cannot be ruled out.

“Currently, the US government does not have a consensus on how exactly COVID started,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. speak during a press conference at the White House on Monday. “The work is still ongoing. No final conclusions have been reached here yet. And not everyone in the intelligence community or in government necessarily comes to a consensus here on how it started.”

Plus China reluctant to open its own facilities and cooperate with international investigator. Former head of MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence agency, speculate that any direct evidence that could indicate a lab leak that may have been destroyed by Chinese officials.

Either way, there will likely never be “evidence of a smoke gun,” Huang said. And that’s because China has also politicized its response.

When the Australian government called for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus in Wuhan in 2020, China retaliates by imposing trade sanctions on Australian exports. China announced its joint investigation with the World Health Organization in 2021 has come to a conclusion.authoritative conclusion“refuting the lab leak theory, but the WHO itself says all the theories about COVID-19 origin is still open. And as the WHO sought to investigate further, China refuse to cooperate.

Ayelet Berman, head of the Global Health Law and Management Program at the National University of Singapore’s Center for International Law, says the problem is that in the current political climate, China gains nothing from the more transparent. And that sets a dangerous precedent. Berman said that research into future outbreaks could similarly be hampered by the fear of countries of origin about facing an economic and social backlash.

“All the other outbreaks over the years — if you think about Zika, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-1, Ebola — it really didn’t matter to investigate the origin because of the countries,” Berman said. cooperated with each other. That’s not the case anymore. “It’s a big problem that needs to be addressed.”

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