If we don’t know where Covid came from, how can we prevent all this happening again? Initially dismissed as a Trumpian conspiracy theory with more than a whiff of sinophobia about it, the lab-escape theory is now being treated more seriously. 18 months on, there is no new, compelling evidence to support the natural transmission theory – that the virus ‘jumped’ from animals to humans via bats in a cave and/or pangolins sold at the wet market. It is known that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was part of a global virus research programme. It is not clear whether this research involved ‘gain-of-function’ development, which artificially enhances the contagious properties of a virus, but it is increasingly apparent that there are insufficient enforceable security and information transparency protocols in place for laboratories working with so-called ‘high consequence pathogens’. Some scientists say that harvesting viruses from wild animals in order to research them, with a view to improving pandemic preparedness, is simply asking for trouble. Join us for a ThinkIn in which we try to ascertain what we know, what we don’t and, crucially, what must happen next?
editor and invited experts
Editor and Co-founder
Chair of the Global Virome Project Leadership Board