Covid 19

Close To 1.5 Years Since COVID-19 Ravaged The World, Mystery Over It’s Origins Remains

The COVID-19 virus so far has left close to 3 million people dead and affected an innumerable number of people. What began allegedly from the markets of Wuhan in China has gone on a rampage across the world since then.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered an investigation and “redouble” efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19, including the theory that it came from a laboratory in China. He said the US intelligence community was split on whether it came from a lab accident or emerged from human contact with an infected animal.

The COVID-19 virus so far has left close to 3 million people dead and affected an innumerable number of people. What began allegedly from the markets of Wuhan in China has gone on a rampage across the world since then.

What began allegedly from the markets of Wuhan in China has gone on a rampage across the world since then.

Curiously, the origins of this virus are yet to be solidified even after it first came to everyone’s notice in late 2019. The official version (or rather what the Chinese want the world to believe) is this – a virus commonly found in bats jumped to human transmission from the markets of Wuhan, China. Parallelly, ‘conspiracy theories such as the virus being a bio-weapon, being manufactured in a lab started to do the rounds and were soon dismissed.

Biden’s order for an investigation has meant that the ‘lab theory’ is back in the news, gaining traction. So what exactly is it and why is it important to talk about it?

The Lab Theory

It’s a suspicion that the coronavirus may have escaped, accidentally or otherwise, from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus was first recorded.

The supporters of this argument point to the presence of a major biological research facility, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the city. WIV has been studying coronaviruses in bats for over a decade. The laboratory is located just a few kilometers from the market where the first cluster of infections emerged in Wuhan. They believe that the virus may well have leaked from this facility and gone to hit the markets in Wuhan.

Wuhan Insitute of Virology, China

The controversial theory first emerged early on in the pandemic and was promoted by then-US President Donald Trump. Some even suggested it could have been engineered as a possible biological weapon. But Trump’s ‘anti-China rhetoric’ meant that these theories were never looked at seriously.

While many in the media and politics dismissed these as conspiracy theories at the time, others called for more consideration of the possibility.

US Medical Fraternity Divided

Recent US media reports have suggested and backed the theory, giving it a fresh lease of life. And some scientists who were once skeptical of the idea have expressed fresh openness to it.

A classified US intelligence report – saying three researchers at the Wuhan laboratory were treated in hospital in November 2019, just before the COVID-19 began infecting humans in the city – began circulating in US media this week.

The Biden administration has conceded the American intelligence community is split on COVID-19 origins – it could be the lab or animal-to-human contact – and no one is near certain about it.

That marks a big shift from the derision heaped on the lab theory by many in the media and politics last year, when Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Tom Cotton, and others floated the idea.

China Remains Uncooperative

The country of origin for the COVID-19, China has received tremendous flak for the right reasons-failing to contain the virus within its borders and raise the red flags in the global community on time. Not only this, it has rebutted the charges and been uncooperative when it comes to a free and fair inquiry into the virus’ origin.

China has unequivocally rejected the laboratory theory.

“Smear campaigns and blame-shifting are making a comeback, and the conspiracy theory of ‘lab leak’ is resurfacing,” the Chinese embassy in the US said in a statement on Thursday.

China has denied the lab leak theory

The Chinese government points to new research published by one of its leading virologists into samples collected from bats in a remote abandoned mine. Meanwhile, China’s state media have accused the US government and Western media of spreading rumors.

“The public opinion in the US has become extremely paranoid when it comes to the origin of the pandemic,” an editorial in the Communist Party-owned Global Times newspaper said.

Instead, the Chinese government has been pushing another theory: that the virus reached Wuhan on frozen meat from China or South-East Asia.

Also Read: ‘Bogus Fact-Checking Site Amplified By Dozens Of Indian Embassies On Social Media’: Report

W.H.O’s Investigations

The World Health Organisation’s much-delayed visit to China to probe the origins and its findings have thrown up more questions than answers. After spending 12 days there, which included a visit to the laboratory, the team concluded the lab-leak theory was “extremely unlikely”.

But many aren’t happy with this response.

A prominent group of scientists criticized the WHO report for not taking the lab-leak theory seriously enough – it was dismissed in a few pages of a several-hundred-page report.

“We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,” the scientists wrote in Science Magazine, reported BBC.

WHO in its findings has almost ruled out the lab leak theory

And the voices demanding that this theory be looked at closely have only grown since.

Even the WHO’s own director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called for a new investigation, saying: “All hypotheses remain open and require further study.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, US’ top medical adviser has said he’s “not convinced” that COVID-19 originated naturally. That’s a shift from a year ago when he thought it most likely COVID-19 had spread from animals to humans.

Whatever may be the case, some things are clear. It seems very difficult now to conduct a free and fair probe into the origins given China’s excessive interference and that we will never be able to get to the virus’ actual origin. And secondly, on a sadder note, the countless number of bereaved families has meant that the invisible enemy has destroyed generations to come.


Dear Readers,
As an independent media platform, we do not take advertisements from governments and corporate houses. It is you, our readers, who have supported us on our journey to do honest and unbiased journalism. Please contribute, so that we can continue to do the same in future.

Related posts