Did Sars-CoV-2 emerge from a Huanan market stall or a lab? For the American virologist, who has been abused online for defending a ‘natural’ origin, the evidence is clear
A ngela Rasmussen studies the interactions between hosts and pathogens and how they shape disease. Before the pandemic, she worked on the emerging viruses that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), Ebola, dengue and avian flu. Then, when Covid-19 erupted, the American virologist, who works at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, was drawn into the debate over where it came from. She has been among the most vocal scientists on Twitter defending a “natural” origin, as opposed to a lab leak. Last month, she and 17 co-authors published findings in Science that they feel should silence all rational critics on the question.
In the Science paper, which started life as a preprint in February before going through peer review, you say that the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan was the “early epicentre” of the Covid-19 pandemic. To be clear, are you saying that the Huanan market was the origin of the pandemic? That is what the research heavily implies. We are not able to pinpoint the exact spillover event, the exact animal from which the virus crossed into humans, but there’s really no other explanation for what our analysis shows. And that is that there weren’t any Covid-19 cases in Wuhan or anywhere else prior to these early cases that we looked at, which are all strongly associated with the market.