Final answer - nature to blame for the coronavirus

In a letter dated July 5, in The Lancet, leading scientists dismissed the lab-leak opinion.

In Summary

•According to peer-reviewed studies published in The Lancet, Covid-19 emanated from nature and not from a human source as had been bandied in some sources. 

•"We believe the strongest clue from new, credible and peer-reviewed evidence in the scientific literature is that the virus evolved in nature" – Lancet

The latest finding agrees with a separate assertion by scientists in February 2020 and another by a team commissioned by WHO late last year.
DEBATE OVER: The latest finding agrees with a separate assertion by scientists in February 2020 and another by a team commissioned by WHO late last year.
Image: Reuters

It is now more than one and a half years since emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over this period, most of the world has been in a state of angst, devastated by the social and economic challenges that have been exacerbated by the disease.

A lot has been done scientifically in managing the pandemic. Scientists around the world have discussed how to diagnose, treat and prevent the scourge. China has obviously been in the forefront, carrying out tens of virtual knowledge sharing forums with both developing counterparts and the developed world.    

The pandemic also brought nations together as they seek the best way to survive the scourge. Some countries shared the much or little they could with the ones that were not as fortunate. For instance, while Africa sent messages of solidarity with the Chinese people at the onset of the pandemic in Wuhan, Hubei Province early 2020, China reciprocated later with donations of drugs, face masks and other medical essentials to its partner.

In an unprecedented move, the process of vaccine development was cut by years, enabling hundreds of millions of people around the world to be vaccinated. Were it not for the intervention of science, the ramifications caused by the coronavirus would have been unimaginable.

SCIENTISTS LETTER IN 'THE LANCET'

"We believe the strongest clue from new, credible and peer-reviewed evidence in the scientific literature is that the virus evolved in nature, while suggestions of a laboratory-leak source of the pandemic remain without scientifically validated evidence that directly supports it in peer-reviewed scientific journals."

Now, there has been some unfinished business regarding Covid-19, until recently. The issue related to the origins of the coronavirus has been in abeyance, with the Western world, led by the US, insisting and insinuating that the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan. The rumours have lingered even after an independent group of medical experts under the aegis of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a late March report exonerated China of complicity.

But this diabolical agenda has now hit a dead end after one of the leading Western scientific journals, The Lancet, finally put paid to the lingering allegations. In a letter dated July 5, a worldwide group of scientists comprising physicians, veterinarians, epidemiologists, virologists, biologists, ecologists and public health experts dismissed the lab-leak opinion.

According to peer-reviewed studies published in The Lancet, Covid-19 emanated from nature and not from a human source as had been bandied in some sources. It was not an entirely new finding though. In February 2020, the same group of scientists had stated: "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin."

In the recent authoritative letter, the scientists reiterated what they had said then when answering inquiries whether they still held their initial position. "The answer is clear: We reaffirm our expression of solidarity with those in China who confronted the outbreak then, and the many health professionals around the world who have since worked to exhaustion, and at personal risk, in the relentless and continuing battle against this virus. Our respect and gratitude have only grown with time."

The Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Western nations led a failed campaign alleging that Covid-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan.
TOP NOTCH: The Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Western nations led a failed campaign alleging that Covid-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan.

Statistics from WHO on July 6 show that there were more than 183.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with Covid-19 deaths nearing four million globally. "We believe the strongest clue from new, credible and peer-reviewed evidence in the scientific literature is that the virus evolved in nature, while suggestions of a laboratory-leak source of the pandemic remain without scientifically validated evidence that directly supports it in peer-reviewed scientific journals," the recent letter said.

This letter of eminent scientists pre-empts ongoing attempts by the Western world to prove that Covid-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, or from any other laboratory for that matter. These energies and resources should now be channelled to areas that still have gaps in the fight against the pandemic.

Instead of going on a wild goose chase, these countries should let go and invest more in the pursuit of interventions against the pandemic. The diversionary tactics aimed at covering up their ineptitude and cavalier attitude to the coronavirus during the early stages has been counterproductive and an exercise in futility.

Furthermore, scientists agree that this is just the first of future pandemics that mankind must start preparing for in the coming years. Now, does it mean that these viruses will be “manufactured” in China?

In an opinion by Dominic Dwyer in The Guardian dated June 18 titled, “The animal origins pathway of Covid-19 outbreak is logical, but there’s no ‘gotcha’ evidence”, the writer succinctly puts this matter to rest by stating, “yes, it is crucial to find out what happened in 2019 in the months leading up to the explosive spread of the virus in China and globally, not for the sake of reproach, but to guide preparations for the next time around. And rest assured, there will be future pandemics.”

The writer is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi based research and development communication think tank.