This article first appeared in Science The Wire.
The origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains mired in controversy. The virus was initially thought to have originated in a wet market in China’s Wuhan. But as it spread around the world, it fuelled many conspiracy theories in its wake. In the public imagination, the virus has often transformed (baselessly) into a bioweapon, a scientific experiment leaked from a laboratory and spread through the 5G network. Scientists have downplayed these ideas, quoting genomic analyses that clearly show the virus is of natural origin and jumped from some animal species to humans.
Yet its origin remains unsettled and this ambiguity needs to be resolved soon – not to settle political agendas or conspiracy theories but simply and importantly in the larger interest of public health. Settling the question of the virus’s origins once and for all is key to take appropriate measures to prevent it from happening again, and to focus our efforts on the right things.
This said, who can comprehensively investigate the origin of SARS-CoV-2?
Read the full op-ed here.