Our picks: Lab-leak theoryWhat Scientists Do and Don’t Know about COVID-19 Origins | The Rise of the Coronavirus Lab-Leak Theory | The Lab Leak Theory Doesn’t Hold Up, and more

Published 24 August 2021

Editor’s note: This is the first of a 2-part list of the best articles on the origins of COVID-19. Tomorrow we will publish the second part of the list.

·  The COVID Lab-Leak Hypothesis: What Scientists Do and Don’t Know

·  The Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns of COVID-19

·  The Lab Leak Theory Doesn’t Hold Up

·  How COVID-19’s Origins Were Obscured, by the East and the West

·  The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins

·  After the Lab-Leak Theory, U.S.-Chinese Relations Head Downhill

·  The Sudden Rise of the Coronavirus Lab-Leak Theory

·  China Is Pushing Its Own Coronavirus Lab Leak Theory in Latest Battle of Narratives

·  The Case against the Covid-19 Lab Leak Theory

·  Republican Report Says Coronavirus Leaked from China Lab; Scientists Still Probing Origins

·  The Right Way to Investigate the Origins of COVID-19

The COVID Lab-Leak Hypothesis: What Scientists Do and Don’t Know  (Amy Maxmen and Smriti Mallapaty, Nature)
Debate over the idea that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus emerged from a laboratory has escalated over the past few weeks, coinciding with the annual World Health Assembly, at which the World Health Organization (WHO) and officials from nearly 200 countries discussed the COVID-19 pandemic. After last year’s assembly, the WHO agreed to sponsor the first phase of an investigation into the pandemic’s origins, which took place in China in early 2021.
Most scientists say SARS-CoV-2 probably has a natural origin, and was transmitted from an animal to humans. However, a lab leak has not been ruled out, and many are calling for a deeper investigation into the hypothesis that the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), located in the Chinese city where the first COVID-19 cases were reported. On 26 May, US President Joe Biden tasked the US Intelligence Community to join efforts to find SARS-CoV-2’s origins, whatever they might be, and report back in 90 days.

The Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns of COVID-19  (W. Ian Lipkin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
In 2002, while making the case for the US invasion of Iraq to those who asked for evidence of what we now know to be nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, Donald Rumsfeld referred to known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. Nearly two decades later, we are in similar territory in discussing the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Then, as now, we should be wary that incomplete data and strong opinions not determine high-impact decisions.

The Lab Leak Theory Doesn’t Hold Up  (Justin Ling, Foreign Policy)
The rush to find a conspiracy around the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins is driven by narrative, not evidence.
Blaming humans for disease is as old as time itself. It’s inherently hard to trace outbreaks that take tangled paths from their origin point to where they’re first detected. Without firm answers, humankind loves to invent stories, from the Black Death of the 14th century to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. In the absence of certainty, both sets of theories—natural or man-made—seem plausible: like Schrödinger’s cat, for virology.
When infectious diseases can be explained, however, nature is almost always the culprit. But, of course, sometimes governments do experiment on unwitting civilians. Sometimes viruses do escape from labs. (Cont.)

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