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Credible claim by 2024 that COVID-19 likely originated in a lab?
Cross-posted on Metaculus: Pandemics.
The beginning of 2020 has seen the emergence of COVID-19 outbreak caused by a novel coronavirus. The majority of the cases were epidemiologically linked to seafood, poultry and live wildlife market (Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) in Jianghan District of Hubei Province. This suggests that the novel coronavirus has a possible zoonotic origin. Some evidence suggests the virus might have originated from bat sub-species. So far, scientists have been unable to conclusively determine the zoological origins of COVID-19.
In a recent (but undated) preprint, two Chinese scientists claim that the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan:
In summary, somebody was entangled with the evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.
The preprint implicates the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the only BSL-4 virology lab in China. Scientists have previously expressed concerns about the organisation's ability to monitor the lab.
Other scientists, such as Trevor Bedford, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle has disputed the theory of the laboratory origins of COVID-19, claiming: "There is no evidence whatsoever of genetic engineering that we can find".
This questions resolves positively if, before the end of 2024 at least two of the public health agencies listed below claim that it is more likely than not that the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus originated from a Chinese virology laboratory. For the purpose of this question, we consider only statements by the following public health agencies:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including the Epidemic Intelligence Service)
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (including the Health Threat Unit)
- World Health Organization
- The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Centre for Health Protection
- Robert Koch Institute
- The National Institute of Infectious Diseases
- Public Health England
- The National Centre for Infectious Diseases
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea
- The Public Health Agency of Canada
In case multiple subdivisions of any of the above agencies make assessments that COVID-19 more likely than not originated from a Chinese virology laboratory, this will only count as single claim made by a one public health agency.
Assessments made by these agencies must broadly state that it is more likely than not that COVID-19 originated from a Chinese virology or biology laboratory, after having been released accidentally or deliberately. Synonyms for probability assessments must be considered by an admin to be broadly consistent with at least a 50% chance. Examples of such synonyms include "probably", "likely", "with high probability" and "almost certainly".
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