Yesterday the Science and Technology Committee held a further evidence session as part of our inquiry into reproducibility and research integrity. I took a particular interest in the third panel of the session, looking at the origins of Covid-19's. The panel of witnesses were:
Mr Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, The Lancet Journal
Viscount Matt Ridley, Co-author, Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19
Dr Alina Chan, Co-author, Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19
There are a number of theories about the origins of Covid-19. One proposes the virus being natural in origin and coming from an animal. Another proposes that the virus accidentally leaked from the laboratories of the Wuhan Institute of Virology - potentially after having been modified by scientists.
When I asked Dr Chan what the probability of a laboratory leak as the origin of the pandemic, she said a lab origin is more likely than natural origin at this point. Viscount Ridley noted that it was incredibly surprising no animal host has been discovered after two years of searching.
Mr Horton's journal, The Lancet, published a letter in February 2019 which, in my view, served to try to shut down the debate as to whether Covid might have leaked from a lab. It soon transpired that many of the authors - including the lead author, Dr Peter Daszak, had conflicts of interest, which I challenged Dr Horton about during the session. The letter can be read here, together with a link to the later "addendum" which we discussed: https://www.thelancet.com/.../PIIS0140-6736(20.../fulltext.
A number of papers have reported on the session: