A leak of a “low confidence” assessment from the United States Department of Energy that COVID-19 originated from a lab leak in China has set off another round of upset.
The base problem is that no one has access to all the data to come to a definitive conclusion and likely never will.
Most epidemiologists, researchers, and US government departments think that the most likely origin is from markets in Wuhan that dealt with wild animals that harbored the virus which then jumped to people. This article in Science is representative of that opinion. The animal to human route is a common mechanism which we have seen with diseases such as ebola and SARS-CoV-1.
Rather than arguing about lab leaks, we should put our energies toward strategies that will help to avoid or contain future illnesses. Yes to tightening controls at laboratories doing research on pathogens. Yes to limiting exposure to wild animals that can carry diseases to humans. Yes to rapid response and open sharing of information about emerging diseases.
No to wild speculation that is not grounded in fact. For example, there is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was lab-engineered rather than naturally occurring. It is irresponsible to share disproven theories.
As I know from public health statistics and recent cases among friends, COVID-19 is still out there, sickening millions and adding to the global death toll of over 6.8 million people. Protect yourself in accord with your local conditions and resources. Vaccinate and receive the bivalent booster if it’s available. Increase ventilation in indoor spaces. Avoid crowds. Wear a high-quality mask indoors when transmission rates are significant. Wash your hands. Take extra caution if you or someone you live with or visit is especially vulnerable due to age, medical condition, etc. Make sure you have accurate, scientifically valid information behind your decisions. Be respectful of those who choose to mask in public. They are trying to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s possible they are getting over an illness themselves and are being cautious in order to protect you.
At some point, COVID-19 will become endemic. We aren’t there yet. Do your best to be a help, not a hindrance, to that end.
2 thoughts on “COVID-19 origin stories”
Well said. We need to keep finding ways to mitigate and stop it from killing hundreds of people per week.
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It’s frightening how many people we continue to lose and how many are suffering with symptoms for weeks/months/years. The rise in heart attacks and strokes following infection is also worrying. Yet, somehow, people think it isn’t still a problem?