‘1 in a Billion’ Chance COVID Emerged From Nature, Scientist Tells Lawmakers

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by Suzanne Burdick, Ph.D., Childrens Health Defense:

The COVID-19 lab-leak theory — far from being a myth or conspiracy theory — is supported by a “preponderance of evidence” U.S. senators today acknowledged in a bipartisan hearing.

The COVID-19 lab-leak theory — far from being a myth or conspiracy theory — is supported by a “preponderance of evidence” U.S. senators today acknowledged in a historic bipartisan hearing.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Gary Peters, a Democratic senator from Michigan, and ranking member Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led the two-hour committee hearing examining the available evidence on the origins of COVID-19. CHD.TV aired the hearing.

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The Chinese government refuses to release key data from the Wuhan Institute of Virology from around the time COVID-19 emerged, making it difficult to assess the lab-leak theory and come to a conclusion.

Nonetheless, much evidence points toward a lab leak rather than a natural spillover from animals, according to both expert witnesses Steven C. Quay, M.D., Ph.D. — CEO of Atossa Therapeutics Inc. and former faculty member at Stanford University’s School of Medicine — and Richard H. Ebright, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and chemical biology and lab director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University.

Ebright is also on the leadership team of Biosafety Now, a nongovernmental organization that “advocates for reducing numbers of high-level biocontainment laboratories and for strengthening biosafety, biosecurity, and biorisk management for research on pathogens.”

‘1 in a billion’ chance COVID emerged from nature

Quay — who began by telling the committee he was speaking “as an independent scientist” with no relevant financial ties — explained that the genome of SARS-CoV-2 has seven features that would be expected to be found in a virus constructed in a laboratory and which are not found in viruses from nature.

“The statistical probability of finding each feature in nature can be determined,” Quay said, “and the combined probability that SARS2 came from nature is less than one in a billion.”

Ebright said his extensive research and gathering of documents likewise pointed toward a lab leak.

He also said the “gain-of-function” research on potentially dangerous pathogens — like the experiments underway at the Wuhan Institute when COVID-19 emerged — “has no civilian application” but is easy for researchers to do and make money doing.

“Researchers undertake it because it is fast,” Ebright said, “it is easy, it requires no specialized equipment or skills, and it was prioritized for funding and has been prioritized for publication by scientific journals.”

“These are major incentives to researchers worldwide, in China and in the U.S.,” he pointed out.

Moreover, gain-of-function research is largely unregulated, Ebright said.

There needs to be an independent agency that oversees and regulates this risky research, he said.

“Only after there is an acknowledgment,” Ebright said, “that there is a very real possibility — not a remote possibility, but a very real possibility — of a lab origin will there be the political will to impose regulation on this scientific community that has successfully resisted and obstructed regulation for two decades.”

Ebright added, “I see this acknowledgment today in a bipartisan fashion among members of this committee.”

When asked how important it is that legislators pass a law to regulate gain-of-function research, Ebright said it’s a “matter of survival.”

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