July 26, 2021

Origin of SARS-CoV-2: Still in the dark after 18 months

Status: 06/12/2021 3:57 a.m.

To draw lessons from the pandemic – that is also what the G7 summit is trying to do. But one question remains unanswered: Where does the SARS-CoV-2 virus come from? The call to China to allow new investigations is getting louder.

From Georg Mascolo,
NDR / WDR

The pressure on China to allow a comprehensive investigation into the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is growing. At an internal meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) this week, the representatives of the EU countries demanded that a further awareness-raising mission be initiated “without further delay”. Only a comprehensive investigation of the origin of the virus “will help us to understand and control this pandemic,” said the EU officials.

Publicly stated EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “We have to know where this virus came from.” This is necessary to prevent further pandemics – or at least to prepare for them. A corresponding declaration of this content is also expected at the EU-US summit in Brussels next week. The draft declaration states that a “transparent, evidence-based and expert-led” investigation under the direction of the WHO is necessary. This must take place “free of interference”.

Many questions still remain unanswered

With the declarations, the pressure is now growing on the WHO to send another mission to China. 18 months after the first cases of infection became known, the origin of the virus is still in the dark. Many scientists consider an origin in nature to be likely, but a laboratory accident cannot be ruled out either. The “Wuhan Institute of Virology” is the center of Chinese virus research. US President Joe Biden has instructed the US intelligence services to thoroughly investigate the origin of the issue. The result is expected this summer.

A commission made up of WHO experts and Chinese scientists had investigated the outbreak this year, but the Chinese government refused to see the original documents and only allowed a little over three-hour visit to the laboratory in Wuhan. Finally, she urged that the laboratory orthosis be briefly mentioned in the investigation report. Instead, she demanded that the thesis that the virus may have entered China on frozen foods be included in the report.

How do China convince?

The WHO is now looking for ways to convince China of the need for further and finally more thorough investigations. According to information from diplomatic circles, this would include access to the results of Chinese examinations, medical files and, above all, to the laboratory itself. The focus would be on which experiments on corona viruses took place in Wuhan and whether an employee of the laboratory could have accidentally infected.

The chances of success, however, are rated as low. China initially covered up the outbreak of the disease and then blocked any investigation for months. Former US President Donald Trump then suggested that a laboratory accident was as good as proven. China must compensate for the economic and health costs of the pandemic. Even today it is said in the federal government that the climate is “poisoned”.