Written by Khushii Chaudhry
Dissolved as a conspiracy for over a year, the hypothesis that COVID-19 was originated from a lab in China and not from a wet market in Wuhan has acquired considerable traction over the last month. The question of the hour is…
How did we get here?
The ‘Wuhan lab leak’ theory says that the novel coronavirus actually stemmed from a bat cave and then the leak took place via a lab. Independent researchers, delving deep into the internet have come up with this theory, and await comments of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on it, and simultaneously the whole world is reading it as a fiction novel.
The DRASTIC group
The DRASTIC group – short for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating – was created in 2020 and aims to explore the origins of SARS-CoV-2.
The group consists of 24 self-styled ‘Twitter detectives’ who are mostly anonymous except for a few scientists participating under their real names to ensure the validity and reliability of the research. They have been on the COVID trail for a while and are putting together data to understand how the virus emerged and spread.
Information from the group was examined and their arguments were taken up and developed by some virologists, microbiologists, and science communicators.
Their theory, once dismissed as a conspiracy, has now grabbed the attention of the people across the globe.
About the probe ordered by Biden
US president Joe Biden has ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of what happened, and about the the origin of the novel coronavirus
The probe has been ordered at a sensitive time in U.S.-China relations, with both countries showing signs that they wish to move on from the vitriol that marked the last year of Donald Trump’s presidency.
While Biden has kept Trump’s tariffs and sanctions against Beijing the way they were, his administration has also opened a dialogue: the first call of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with Vice Premier Liu He was held on Tuesday evening in Washington.
But the results of the lab leak probe could tie the hands of Xi Jinping, just before his opportunity to meet Biden at the Group of 20 summits in October.
A World Health Organization report drafted with China earlier this year said that the lab leak theory seems to be “extremely unlikely” because no such virus was studied and analyzed there before. Additionally, the outbreak and security protocols don’t appear to be breached.
The report, compiled by the local researchers after Beijing finally allowed a group of WHO experts into Wuhan, who then said the most likely origin scenario was that the virus spread to humans from bats through an unspecified intermediary animal.
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