- Experts claim Covid-26 and Covid 32 are likely unless we understand their origins.
- The Wuhan lab theory has been disputed by Chinese officials.
- Joe Biden has called for a new probe into the virus’s origins.
Two leading U.S. disease experts warned on Sunday that the world needs the Chinese government’s help in tracing the origins of Covid-19 and prevent any future pandemic threats.
According to Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in the Trump administration who now serves on the board of Pfizer Inc., evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, has gotten stronger.
On CBS News “Face the Nation,” Gottlieb claimed that China hasn’t offered data to reject that notion, and that the search for evidence that the virus came from wildlife hasn’t provided results.
Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, claimed in a separate television interview that not knowing how the epidemic began puts the world at risk of future outbreaks.
“Unless we thoroughly understand the roots of Covid-19, there will be Covid-26 and Covid-32,” Hotez said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The virus’s precise origins remain unknown about a year and a half after it was first discovered circulating in a seafood market in Wuhan, China. It is thought to have passed from wild animals to humans, according to scientists. The concept that the virus may have escaped from a research lab by accident, which has long been pushed by certain Republicans, has received renewed attention from the Biden administration.
President Joe Biden, in an unexpected statement on Wednesday, called for a new probe into the virus’s emergence. US intelligence services were split on whether the virus came from a natural reservoir or was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to Biden. He instructed the authorities to “redouble their efforts” and submit a report to him within 90 days.
Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were unwell enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care for “symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness,” according to a Wall Street Journal report on May 23.
Hotez believes that scientists should be allowed to collect blood samples from humans and animals in China for a long-term study. The US should put pressure on China, including possibility of penalities, to allow a probe to take place.
“Over a six-month or year-long time in Hubei province, we require a team of scientists, virologists, epidemiologists, and bat ecologists,” Hotez noted.
Chinese officials have denied the Wuhan lab theory. Biden’s investigation is an attempt at “stigmatisation, political manipulation, and blame-shifting,” said to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian.
The virus’s origins were not completely revealed in a World Health Organization report released in March, but a lab leak was ruled out. At that time, the World Health Organization called for more research.
When the March study was released, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented, “As far as WHO is concerned, all possibilities remain on the table.”