The US Senate report on Thursday presented an interim report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Richard Burr, the panel’s ranking member said he hopes that this report will guide the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international institutions and researchers. “With COVID-19 still in our midst, it is critical that we continue international efforts to uncover additional information regarding the origins of this deadly virus. I hope this report will guide the World Health Organization and other international institutions and researchers as they proceed with planned work to continue investigating the origins of this virus. Uncovering the answers to this critical question is imperative to our national and international ability to ensure that a pandemic of this size and scope does not happen again.” Richard said.
“This is an interim report produced by HELP Committee Minority oversight staff. The objective was to review publicly available, open-source information to examine the two prevailing theories of the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus: a natural zoonotic outbreak or a research-related incident. This Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Minority oversight staff report is the product of that review,” Richard further said.
“Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident. New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment,” reads the report.
In the report it has been mentioned that the Wuhan Institute of Virology hasn’t maintained biosafety, “Patents by WIV researchers published in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and procurements made by the WIV in 2019, indicate that the WIV struggled to maintain key biosafety capabilities at its high-containment BSL3 and BSL4 laboratories.”
The report has also given examples to explain bio-safety measures that WIV should have followed.
In conclusion, the report has mentioned that more precise information is required to arrive at the final conclusion, “As noted by the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, the COVID-19 Lancet Commission, and the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence 90-Day Assessment on the COVID-19 Origins, more information is needed to arrive at a more precise, if not a definitive, understanding of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and how the COVID-19 pandemic began.225 Governments, leaders, public health officials, and scientists involved in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and working to prevent future pandemics, must commit to greater transparency, engagement, and responsibility in their efforts”.
Further, this report has also raised a few questions on the origin of SARS-CoV-2, “However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt or the presumption of accuracy.
The following are critical outstanding questions that would need to be addressed to be able to more definitively conclude the origins of SARS-CoV-2: What is the intermediate host species for SARS-CoV-2? Where did it first infect humans? Where is SARS-CoV-2’s viral reservoir? How did SARS-CoV-2 acquire its unique genetic features, such as its furin cleavage site?
Advocates of a zoonotic origin theory must provide clear and convincing evidence that a natural zoonotic spill-over is the source of the pandemic, as was demonstrated for the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak.”
“In other words, there needs to be verifiable evidence that a natural zoonotic spill-over actually occurred, not simply that such a spill-over could have occurred,” it said.
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