Almost 2 years later, experts still can't agree on the origins of COVID-19

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Monday, October 4, 2021 - 9:55am
Updated: Monday, October 4, 2021 - 11:09am

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As the world approaches two years since the first case of COVID-19 appeared in a Wuhan, China, market, scientists still cannot say where the coronavirus originated.

Science magazine recently convened four experts to hash out the leading hypotheses.

Whether experts believe SARS-CoV-2 stemmed from a natural source, sprang from a lab leak or spawned from something in between hinges on what’s considered plausible based on inadequate evidence.

Meanwhile, unproven assertions can do harm.

Michael Worobey
Beatriz Verdugo/UANews
Michael Worobey leads the UA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research into viral genomes has helped explain the origins and spread of HIV and the 1918 influenza pandemic.

UA’s Michael Worobey, co-author of a May letter in Science calling for further investigation, says he regrets the letter’s role in boosting interest in lab origins and darker conspiracy theories.

“And now, the lab leak idea is actually getting much more press interest and coverage. And to me, it's just out of balance with what the science is saying.”

A lack of data and transparency continue to hinder efforts to understand the virus’s origins.

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