From the Document: "In late 2019, a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2], was identified in Wuhan, China. The virus, which causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has contributed to significant morbidity (illness) and mortality (death), as well as severe public health and economic effects, among other impacts. Several Members of Congress have made public statements and introduced legislation calling for an investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Determining the origin and pathway by which a zoonotic disease (i.e., one that originated in animals) emerges and is transmitted to humans can help scientists prevent further outbreaks, inform the public health response, and aid in the development of therapeutics and vaccines. Further, such knowledge may guide the development of policies and practices that reduce the potential for the emergence of other zoonotic diseases. Scientists note that determining the origin of zoonotic diseases could take years, and in some cases, an origin may never be conclusively identified. [...] From January 14 through February 10, 2021, a team of 34 experts--17 from China and 17 from other countries and organizations--traveled to Wuhan to collect and analyze existing and additional data. On March 30, 2021, WHO [World Health Organization] released its report on the mission, which summarized findings from site visits and discussions with Chinese local and national experts. The report presented four hypotheses on the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and assessed their likelihood of being the cause."
CRS In Focus, IF11822
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/