COVID-19 likely started in Wuhan lab, molecular biologist tells British members of Parliament
Canadian molecular biologist, Dr. Alina Chan, told members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee of Parliament (MPs) that the likely origin of COVID-19 is a leak in the Wuhan lab.
Dr. Chan specializes in gene therapy and cell engineering and is the co-author of “Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19.” She appeared in front of the committee panel on Wednesday to discuss her findings (Business Standard).
Chan told the committee during the panel’s evidence session that research has shown that the coronavirus has a unique feature known as the furin cleavage site, that can be linked to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “We all agree that there was a critical event at the Huanan Seafood Market, that was a superspreader event caused by humans. There is no evidence pointing to a natural animal origin of the virus at that market,” she stated.
The panel questioned her further on if the lab was the true origin, to which she responded that it was likely, and that it was only a matter of time before the origins would be confirmed.
Chan said, “Right now it’s not safe for people who know about the origin of this pandemic to come forward. It might be five years from now, it might be 50 years from now, but we live in an era where there’s so much data being collected and stored… we just need a credible, systematic investigation.”
Chan went further, identifying the furin cleavage site as the reason a pandemic would have occurred as a response to a potential lab leak. “Only recently in September did a proposal get leaked showing that scientists from EcoHealth Alliance were in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology developing this pipeline for inserting novel furin cleavage sites, these genetic modification, into SARS-like viruses in the lab,” she said.
Chan’s co-author, Lord Matt Ridley, agreed with her statements. He said, “We have to face the fact that after two months we knew the origins of SARS through markets, and after a couple of months we knew the origin of MERS through camels. In this case, after two years we still haven’t found a single infected animal that could be the progenitor of this pandemic; that’s extremely surprising.”