March 8, 2023


Available evidence still points to covid originating from spillover (Angela Rasmussen and Saskia Popescu, March 7, 2023, Washington Post)

To be clear, all the evidence available for scrutiny points to the pandemic originating from transmission from live animals to humans -- zoonotic spillover -- at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.

Two studies (one co-authored by one of us) published in 2022 in the U.S. journal Science mapped the verifiable earliest cases, environmental samples collected at the Huanan market, records of animal sales at the market, social media data and susceptibility data about the animals. Triangulating all this demonstrated that the pandemic started with two independent spillover events at the market, or just upstream in the common supply chain where the animals were sourced or transported.

The Huanan market is roughly the size of a soccer field. It is about nine miles away -- across the Yangtze River -- from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the only lab in that city known to have an active research program on coronaviruses.

No other explanation, including a laboratory origin at the Wuhan Institute or the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is consistent with the existing body of evidence. There have been numerous attempts to challenge the quality of these data and the analysis or to present original research supporting a lab leak. Only one has survived peer review.

The facts cannot be refuted by undisclosed evidence that merited the Energy Department's low-confidence rating. This bar is cleared by information that is "scant, questionable, fragmented" or information from which "solid analytical conclusions cannot be inferred."

This focus on labs overlooks the real and enduring biosecurity risk: cities where people and animals live in close contact.

Zoonotic spillover is not rare. 

Posted by at March 8, 2023 12:00 AM