It has been one year since the world first heard news of the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, which has since wreaked havoc on the entire planet.
As it continues to spread, people have been asking: was COVID-19 made in a lab? The answer to this question is complex, and there is no definitive answer yet, but experts and officials have been researching and debating the matter extensively.
Questions and Theories about Covid and a Lab
The most commonly asked questions about the possibility of COVID-19 being made in a lab are: what evidence is there of this possibility? What are the theories? And why are these avenues of research being explored?
At the outset, there have been several pieces of evidence that suggest COVID-19 may have originated in a lab. Firstly, the virus is believed to have been circulating at a controlled environment before it was discovered in humans. Secondly, the virus has peculiar properties and characteristics not seen in many of the other human coronaviruses.
Theory of Accidental Release
The theory of accidental release suggests that the virus may have been accidentally released from a laboratory facility where it was being studied. This is a possibility that has been discussed by many experts, including Professor Angus Dalgleish of St. George’s University London, who in a recent interview said “The only way it can leave the lab is through an accident, through theft.”
The lab-created theory suggests that the virus could have been created in a laboratory, either intentionally or accidentally. This theory has been gaining traction as more and more experts suggest it is a possibility. The US Department of State even put out a statement in April 2020 expressing concern about the possibility of the virus being a result of “chaos incubated in a laboratory environment”.
The Wuhan Lab Theory
The Wuhan lab theory suggests that the virus may have originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where scientists had been conducting research on bat coronaviruses and their potential to become dangerous to humans. This theory has been discussed by many officials and experts, including the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, who stated in an interview that he believes “it’s worth looking into whether this virus” originated in the Wuhan lab.
Debate on the Origins of Covid
While many experts and officials have been discussing these theories and the evidence supporting them, there is still much debate about the origin of COVID-19 and whether it was created in a lab or not.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been investigating the origins of COVID-19 since February 2020 and recently released a joint statement with China asserting that the virus “very likely” originated in animals. The statement went on to say that “The findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population.”
The United Nations’ Commission
Despite the conclusions reached by WHO, the United Nations’ Commission on the Origin of COVID-19 plans to launch a multinational investigation into the origins of the virus. The commission will be chaired by former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and will include experts from around the world. The aim of the commission is to “get to the bottom of” the virus’ origins, and it is expected to take several months to complete its work.
Chinese and U.S. Response
The response from Chinese and U.S. officials to the debate about COVID-19’s origins has been varied. While Chinese officials have said that the virus “could not have been artificially created”, U.S. officials have been much more open to the possibility of it having been made in a lab.
There is still much debate surrounding the origins of COVID-19 and whether or not it was made in a lab. While there is some evidence to suggest this possibility, the majority of experts and officials appear to agree that the virus “very likely” originated in animals. Nevertheless, this debate is likely to continue, especially with the United Nations’ commission set to investigate the origins of the virus and the differing responses from Chinese and U.S. officials.