This time the possible 'admission' that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have come out of a laboratory and is not the result of the passage from an animal to man comes precisely from China, from the country which was the first, in 2019 or perhaps even in the previous months, he experienced the effects of the pandemic. In essence, the fact that the virus causing Covid escaped from a laboratory should not be excluded: the BBC reports it based on an interview with George Gaoformer head of the China Center for Disease Control (CDC) until 2022 and current vice president of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
Where was Covid born? The Chinese study: "Here's where the virus was hiding in 2020"
by Donatella Zorzetto
The hypotheses of the Chinese immunologist
Gao, a world-renowned virologist and immunologist, has played a key role in the pandemic response and efforts to trace its origins. It must be said that Beijing has rejected any suggestions that the infection may have originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIL), the laboratory in the capital city of Hubei where the virus was first detected in late 2019. But Gao was less peremptory on the subject, noting, "One can always suspect anything. This is science. Don't rule anything out."
A possible sign that Beijing may have taken the lab leak theory more seriously than its official statements suggest? Gao said that "the government has organized something", adding that "that laboratory (Wil, ed) has been re-checked by the experts".
Laboratory under investigation
This is the first admission that China has completed an officially conducted investigation. In this regard, the scientist said he had not seen the results, but had "heard" that the laboratory had passed the exam. "I think the conclusion is that they are following all the protocols - he underlined -. They have not found any wrongdoing".
To date, one of the most accredited hypotheses is that the virus was transmitted from bats to humans, perhaps through other animals. A scenario credited by many scientists, but others noted a lack of sufficient evidence to rule out the main alternative possibility: that the virus infected someone involved in research designed to better understand the threat of naturally produced viruses. Both are based on that idea of lack of evidence. "We really don't know where the virus comes from, the question is still open," concluded Gao.
The Chinese study on spillover
Precisely from China, in support of the thesis of spillover (jump of species, a natural process by which an animal pathogen evolves and becomes capable of infecting, reproducing and transmitting itself within the human species, ed), the latest study in chronological order arrived last April, which identifies the origins of Covid in the Wuhan fish market, in the Huanan province, at the beginning of 2020. The extent to which this work is reliable is still open the discussion.
Going into the merits of the research, it must be said that these are the results produced following the surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 conducted in the Wuhan fish market and published on natures last April 5th. The author of the study is George Gao together with William Lu of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing. This is a long-awaited analysis of the swabs collected in a wet market in Wuhan, precisely in the first weeks in which the Covid pandemic raged, but also of the related data, which the international research community has been clamoring for since beginning of the epidemic.
Covid: new epidemic arriving within two years, but it will not be Omicron
by Donatella Zorzetto
What the research says
What has the work of Chinese experts brought to light? Analysis of environmental and animal samples from the market found that swabs made in the environment contained traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And further analysis of genomic material found on virus-positive and negative environmental samples revealed that a wide range of animals were on the market, including species, such as raccoon dogs, that had previously been hypothesized to be potential intermediate hosts for SARS-CoV-2.
But this is not enough, and Gao's last words suggest it, because the new analysis does not prove that the animals in question have been infected with the virus that leads to the Covid disease.