U.S. NIH director says COVID-19 likely result of viral evolution in nature

Source:Xinhua 22-10-21 09:08 Updated BJT
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- The scientific evidence to date indicates that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is likely the result of viral evolution in nature, said Francis S. Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The virus is potentially jumping directly to humans or through an unidentified intermediary animal host, Collins said in his "Statement on Misinformation about SARS-CoV-2 Origins," released on NIH website late Wednesday.

To date, the origins of SARS-CoV-2 have not been identified. This is not unusual -- confirming with 100 percent certainty the origin of a virus is a long and complicated process, he said.

"It took 14 years for scientists to find a single bat population that contained all the necessary genetic components of SARS-CoV, the virus that caused the 2003 SARS epidemic. We still do not know the origins of the 2014 Ebola outbreak," Collins said.

"Unfortunately, in the absence of a definitive answer, misinformation and disinformation are filling the void, which does more harm than good," he said.

Analysis of published genomic data and other documents from the grantee demonstrate that the naturally occurring bat coronaviruses studied under the NIH grant are genetically far distant from SARS-CoV-2 and could not possibly have caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Any claims to the contrary are "demonstrably false," said the statement.

Collins added that historically, many viruses have emerged from animals to cause epidemics and pandemics, including influenza, Ebola, Zika, West Nile fever, SARS, and more.

Editor: zhangrui
22-10-21 09:08 BJT
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