“The Possibility of a [Wuhan] Laboratory Accident or Leak” “Must Be Investigated”
So wrote the Washington Post editorial board Friday:
Many scientists have speculated that the virus leaped from animals, such as bats, to humans, perhaps with an intermediate stop in another animal. This kind of zoonotic spillover has occurred before, such as in the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014.
But there is another pathway, also plausible, that must be investigated. That is the possibility of a laboratory accident or leak. It could have involved a virus that was improperly disposed of or perhaps infected a laboratory worker who then passed it to others. Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is a major transportation hub and a center of virus studies in China, with at least six facilities with BSL-3 laboratories for handling infectious agents. Published papers show that some of these institutions have been very active in coronavirus research. The most active is the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where Shi Zhengli leads a research team that has extensively studied and experimented on bat coronaviruses that are very similar to the one that ignited the global pandemic.
Dr. Shi said that when news of the outbreak first became known, she checked her laboratory records to see whether there had been any mishandling of experimental materials. She also asserted that the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus did not match viruses that he
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