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Letter Urges New Inquiry

In an open letter, more than two dozen researchers urge the international community to conduct a new investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The World Health Organization recently sent a team of investigators to Wuhan, China, where the first COVID-19 outbreak occurred to search for the source of the virus. Last month, Peter Ben Embarek, the team leader, said during a press briefing that their inquiry pointed to a natural reservoir for the origin of the virus, likely bats.

The letter-writers argue that the WHO team had inadequate access to fully investigate the matter, according to the Journal. The New York Times adds that while many researchers investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2 think it originated in bats and moved into another animal before jumping over to people — and recent studies have uncovered viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 in bats — other theories have also spread.

The letter-writers, who hail from Australia, France, India, the US, and elsewhere, in particular argue that the WHO team could not have ruled out the theory of a lab accident and call for fuller, transparent, and independent investigation. "We cannot afford an investigation into the origins of the pandemic that is anything less than absolutely thorough and credible," the letter says. "Efforts to date do not constitute a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation."

The Journal adds, however, that the letter is unlikely to lead to a new investigation.