October 29, 2022
In a report released Thursday, Republican members of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions found that COVID is most likely the result of “a research-related incident”, rather than animal-to-human transmission. The conclusion of their 35-page report says:
As noted by the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, the COVID19 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.
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. 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 spillover 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 spillover actually occurred, not simply that such a spillover could have occurred.
The entire report can be read here.