The location of early coronavirus infections in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, suggests the virus probably spread to humans from a market where wild and domestically farmed animals were sold and butchered, according to a peer-reviewed article published Thursday in the journal Science that is the latest salvo in the debate over how the pandemic began.
The article, by University of Arizona evolutionary virologist Michael Worobey — a specialist in the origins of viral epidemics — does not purport to answer all questions about the pandemic’s origins, nor is it likely to quell speculation that the virus might have emerged somehow from risky laboratory research.
Worobey has been open to the theory of a lab leak. He was one of the 18 scientists who wrote a much-publicized letter to Science in May calling for an investigation of all possible sources of the virus, including a laboratory accident. But he now contends that the geographic pattern of early cases strongly supports the hypothesis that the virus came from an infected animal at the Huanan Seafood Market — an argument that will probably revive the broader debate about the virus’s origins.
Why so many pundits got so invested in pushing the “lab leak” theory despite the lack of actual evidence for it is something I’ll never really understand.