Senate Releases Analysis of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions released An Analysis of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This interim report summarizes the Committee’s analysis of publicly available, open-source information regarding the potential origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19.

The analysis addresses two primary theories on the origins of SARS-CoV-2:

  1. The virus is the result of natural zoonotic (animal to human transmission) spillover, or
  2. The virus infected humans as the result of a research-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)

Compellingly, authors highlight several pieces of evidence that would make the latter the more likely cause. The evidence includes WIV’s proximity to the outbreak, patterns of biosafety issues at WIV, and the low genetic diversity of early human infections. Overall, the investigation concludes that SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting COVID-19 global pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident associated with coronavirus research in Wuhan, China. 

[M]ore information is needed to arrive at a more precise, if not a definitive, understanding of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and how the COVID-19 pandemic began. Governments, leaders, public health officials, and scientists involved in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and working to prevent future pandemics, must commit to greater transparency, engagement, and responsibility in their efforts. […] New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment. However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.

– Conclusion by the Committee’s Minority Oversight Staff

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