WORLD COVID-19 lab leak theory 'extremely unlikely': virologist

WORLD

COVID-19 lab leak theory 'extremely unlikely': virologist

Xinhua

11:42, August 21, 2021

HONG KONG, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The theory that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology engineered SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was extremely unlikely, reported the South China Morning Post on Friday.

Wu Chung-I, an evolutionary biologist who has spent most of his career at the University of Chicago, made the remarks at an online seminar, the newspaper said.

Picture of Wu Chung-I. (Photo: Global Times)

The example of the Delta variant, which is spreading globally and has undergone multiple mutations on the basis of the wild strain of COVID-19, shows it is highly unlikely that researchers could just tinker with the virus to add a few mutations and expect it to become super efficient at infecting the human population, Wu was quoted as saying.

"The virus has to go through a very long process to become extremely well-adapted to human conditions," he said.

"It's inconceivable either through lab synthesis or through taking a virus from nature, from any animal, and releasing it into the human population and expecting it to burn through the population. I consider it extremely unlikely," he said.

Childish squabbles over the origins of COVID-19, Wu said, are "distracting the public and researchers from more urgent work."

"For us to spend so much time and energy on this low probability event, we look like a bunch of school kids fighting in the playground. We're not trying to solve anything ... It's a complete waste of time," said the scientist.


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