Covid-19: further doubts over origins of coronavirus

A group of leading scientists have said in a letter that the origin of the novel coronavirus is still unclear and there is not yet enough evidence to definitively say.

Covid-19: further doubts over origins of coronavirus

The origin of the novel coronavirus is still unclear and there is not yet enough evidence to say conclusively if it occurred naturally or was caused by a laboratory leak, a group of leading scientists said in a letter.

Covid-19: origins of the pandemic virus

The novel coronavirus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed 3.34 million people, cost the world trillions of dollars in lost income and upended daily life for billions of people.

'More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic,' said the 18 scientists, including Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge and Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

'Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable,' the scientists including David Relman, professor of microbiology at Stanford, said in a letter to the journal Science. The authors of the letter said the World Health Organization's initial investigation into the origins of the virus had not made a 'balanced consideration' of the theory that it may have come from a laboratory incident.

'We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,' the scientists said, adding that an intellectually rigorous and dispassionate investigation needed to take place.

'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.'

Covid-19 vaccine news as it breaks

Keep up to date with the latest US vaccine news, and information on developments from around the world, as everyone 16 and over is now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine in every US state, and children as young as 12 have now been approved for the jab.

There have also been some significant moves in recent days from the CDC, including a change to mask wearing advice.