Lab-made or natural? Article by British journalist raises questions on COVID-19 origin

COVID-19 pandemic has surely been one of the biggest catastrophes the world has ever experienced. It has taken more than three million lives and more than 160 million people have been infected with had the virus. Ever since the pandemic was declared, several questions have been raised and several conspiracy theories have emerged.

But the biggest questions inline remain the same – how did the virus originate? Was it man-made or was it transferred to humans directly from one of the animals such as bats, as claimed thus far? These questions still do not have any concrete answers.

The virus was initially reported from Wuhan, a city in China that houses Wuhan Institute of Virology, a leading research center for coronaviruses. When the theory of the virus being leaked out of the lab and not having any natural origin raged across the globe, a group of prominent scientists led by Peter Daszak, wrote a letter and strongly condemned the theory and ruled out COVID-19 being a lab-made virus. The letter was published in The Lancet – an independent weekly medical journal.

Wuhan Institute of Virology (Photo: Wiki Commons)

However, prominent science writer and British author Nicholas Wade recently wrote an article titled, “The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan”, which has now raised several important questions on the origin of COVID-19.

The article which he wrote in, published by the prestigious ‘Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’, explains the molecular biology of viruses that could help us understand the evolution of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which has caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the article, Nicholas Wade has come up with some startling findings, including the conflict of interest angle of Peter Daszak. The article has now again forced many people to question the origin of COVID-19 and made them doubt the letter published in the Lancet.

“It later turned out that the Lancet letter had been organized and drafted by Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance of New York. Daszak’s organization funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If the SARS2 virus had indeed escaped from research he funded, Daszak would be potentially culpable,” Nicholas reveals in his article.

While the debate is still on, one of India’s foremost scientists and a member of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia (INSACOG), Dr Rakesh Mishra, told that in his opinion the virus is unlikely man or lab-created, as there are various scientific reasons. Dr Mishra has recently retired as the director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Dr Mishra mentioned that it is most likely that the virus has passed on from animals as there is a need for an intermediate before it gets transferred to a human body. It is probable that the virus is a zoonotic one and could have transferred when humans came in close contact with the animals in the wet market. “It is very unlikely that this virus is man-made. There are many reasons for that. I don’t think it is a recombinant virus,” he added.

There is again a globally exerting pressure on China to provide conclusive evidence whether the virus was man-made or leaked from the lab and to bring out the truth of what was actually happening at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.