The Wall Street Journal reported that the outbreak of the Corona epidemic led to a flourishing of experiments on emerging viruses in various laboratories, with the aim of identifying dangerous viruses and knowing ways to combat them to prevent future epidemics.
While the primary goal of the experiments is to protect public health, anything wrong with these dangerous projects could lead to a new epidemic, some scientists say.
The director of the US National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said that there are good reasons to conduct such studies.
Collins added that scientists are helping researchers learn about new viral threats by discovering how animal pathogens can evolve, and which ones pose a threat to humans. The trials also help researchers develop and test vaccines and drugs to fight potential infections.
He continued: “You are trying to get intelligence on the enemy to see what might come to you next.”
This research is a “top priority for us,” said Beth Cameron, senior director for global health security and biodefense at the US National Security Council. “The pandemic has been a wake-up call about what biology can do, and what infectious diseases can do,” she added.
Formation of a new entity
Scientists are studying various viruses, including the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, known scientifically as SARS-CoV-2.
According to the Health Security Index, a project of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, less than 5 percent of governments provide oversight for research into dangerous pathogens.
On the other hand, some scientists and officials in the administration of US President Joe Biden are pressing for more global oversight of dangerous biological research.
The administration is considering ideas that include forming a new entity to address global biosecurity, as well as expanding oversight of US-funded research into pathogens beyond the current practice in which most projects are screened by agencies funded or supervised by review committees in the US. Universities and hospitals.
The controversy over how the Corona virus emerged continues because there is no definitive agreement and conclusive evidence of the origin of the virus.
Some scientists focused on bat virus experiments in China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located in the same city where the first known outbreak of Covid-19 occurred, and confirmed that the virus may have been caused by some kind of laboratory accident.
There is no confirmed public evidence to suggest that the coronavirus leaked from a laboratory of the Wuhan Institute, while Chinese authorities are refusing to give investigators access to the laboratory’s records and viral database.
Beijing denies that the Corona virus, which spread in China in December 2019 and caused a global epidemic that has continued so far, has leaked from the Wuhan laboratory.
Stanford University microbiologist David Reelman said the experiments with bat viruses at the Wuhan Institute, “whatever their name, were very risky”.
Dr. Reelman was among a group of 18 scientists who in May signed a letter calling for an investigation into both the natural and potential laboratory origins of the coronavirus.