An appeal for an objective, open, and transparent scientific debate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2

Jacques van Helden, Colin D. Butler, Guillaume Achaz, Bruno Canard, Didier Casane, Jean-Michel Claverie, Fabien Colombo, Virginie Courtier, Richard H. Ebright, François Graner, Milton Leitenberg, Serge Morand, Nikolai Petrovsky, Rossana Segreto, Etienne Decroly, José Halloy

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract


On July 5, 2021, a Correspondence was published in The Lancet called “Science, not speculation, is essential to determine how SARS-CoV-2 reached humans”.1 The letter recapitulates the arguments of an earlier letter (published in February, 2020) by the same authors,2 which claimed overwhelming support for the hypothesis that the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic originated in wildlife. The authors associated any alternative view with conspiracy theories by stating: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”. The statement has imparted a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate, including among science journalists.3 The 2021 letter did not repeat the proposition that scientists open to alternative hypotheses were conspiracy theorists, but did state: “We believe the strongest clue from new, credible, and peer-reviewed evidence in the scientific literature is that the virus evolved in nature, while suggestions of a laboratory leak source of the pandemic remain without scientifically validated evidence that directly supports it in peer-reviewed scientific journals”. In fact, this argument could literally be reversed. As will be shown below, there is no direct support for the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2, and a laboratory-related accident is plausible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1404
Number of pages3
JournalThe Lancet
Volume398
Issue number10309
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • SARS-CoV-2 origin
  • COVID-19
  • humans
  • transparent scientific debate

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