COVID-19 lab leak theories put entertainment value above reality

More scientists have rebuffed the claim that SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, has leaked from a laboratory.

In a TV show on June 14, American comedian and former TV host Jon Stewart claimed responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic was triggered by an accidental lab leak. His comments were condemned by Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, as reported by The Independent on June 16.

“At the moment, the reality is that there is no smoking gun to say it’s of laboratory origin,” Hotez told TMZ Live, urging Stewart and others to be more careful ‘they are discussing the potential origin of COVID-19.

“They put the value of entertainment above reality,” Hotez said. “This is causing a lot of damage because a number of scientists working on coronaviruses, including myself, feel that we are under attack right now.”

In contrast, scientists still believe that a natural origin is the most possible route.

“The path to COVID-19’s animal origins still makes the most sense,” said Dominic Dwyer, Australian medical virologist in the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 origin research joint study with China, in an op-ed published in The Guardian on Friday.

“Based on almost every emerging human virus of the past 50 years (including SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012) animals are the likely source,” Dwyer said. “Because of their ecology, bats play a special role, not only with coronaviruses, but with Ebola, Hendra and others.”

The virologist refuted the theories of laboratory leaks, because before a leak, “the virus must already be present in the laboratory and there should be a disruption of usual regulated laboratory procedures regarding sample collection and preparation.” For further spread, the infected worker must transmit the virus to close contacts and through them to the community at large, ”which has not currently been supported by any clear evidence.

In addition, RaTG13, a bat virus discovered by researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that is 96% identical to SARS-CoV-2 at the genome level, “is just a genetic sequence and has not been cultured in the laboratory ”.

Read more: Here’s how scientists know the coronavirus comes from bats and wasn’t made in the lab

He noted that the theories of laboratory leaks, ranging from accidental to deliberate and even state sponsored, “are easy claims to be made, understandable to everyone, part of popular culture and answer to political discourse. “.

Tracing the origin of the new coronavirus is “not for the sake of blame, but to guide preparations for the next time,” Dwyer stressed.

Rinat Maksyutov, director general of the Russian State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology Vector, also stressed that experts have no doubts about the natural origin of the new coronavirus, TASS news agency reported on June 17. .

Maksyutov said the changes in the new coronavirus amount to 20% from the previous coronavirus, adding: “Artificially creating such a virus would be impossible.”

About Hector Hedgepeth

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