Find Covid Origin – China must be held accountable. Also ban dangerous gain of function research on viruses

Source: The post is based on the article “Find Covid Origin – China must be held accountable. Also ban dangerous gain of function research on viruses” published in The Times of India on 14th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: About speculations on covid origin.

News: Recently, the WHO chief said that tracing the origins of Covid is not just a scientific but also a moral imperative.

Why there are still many debates on Covid origin?

The lab leak theory has persisted despite some scientists positing that the novel virus had naturally jumped from animals to humans. The unknowability is there because China is stonewalling any Covid-origin investigation.

How China is stonewalling Covid origin investigations?

In early 2021, China allowed a WHO team to visit the country. But the visiting team was neither allowed to freely travel and interview witnesses nor given access to raw patient data from early cases in Wuhan – the Chinese city thought to be ground zero of the pandemic.

When WHO proposed a second phase of investigation later that year, China flatly refused.

China’s refusal fuelled the speculated lab leak theory that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is conducting gain-of-function research on coronaviruses and the US also funding the project.

Read more: Lab leak theory of Coronavirus needs credible investigation

What should be done?

There must be an international consensus on banning all gain of function research. This is because a) The dangers of such experiments far outweigh the benefits, b) The modified viruses are essentially deadly bioweapons.

Further, the investigations into the origins of Covid must continue – to find the truth and to better prepare for or prevent future outbreaks.

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