The Lancet medical journal has printed an article calling for an “objective” and “transparent” debate relating to the true origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, larger than a yr and a half after its controversial article condemning “conspiracy theories” that advocate the virus leaked from a laboratory in China.

The article published Friday, titled, “An appeal for an objective, open and transparent scientific debate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2,” is signed by 16 scientists arguing that a laboratory-related accident is “plausible,” as is the virus having a pure origin, and that neither principle needs to be dominated out nonetheless.

GROUP SAYS CORONAVIRUS EVOLVED IN NATURE RENEWS CALLS FOR ‘SCIENTIFICALLY RIGOROUS INVESTIGATIONS’

“Overwhelming evidence for either a zoonotic or research-related origin is lacking: the jury is still out,” they wrote. “On the basis of the current scientific literature, complemented by our own analyses of coronavirus genomes and proteins, we hold that there is currently no compelling evidence to choose between a natural origin (ie, a virus that has evolved and been transmitted to humans solely via contact with wild or farmed animals) and a research-related origin (which might have occurred at sampling sites, during transportation or within the laboratory, and might have involved natural, selected or engineered viruses).”

The authors criticized a controversial “statement in support of the scientists” article printed by The Lancet in February of 2020 that declared, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.” That letter, signed by 27 consultants, warned that the sharing of information on the COVID-19 outbreak was being “threatened by rumors and misinformation” surrounding its origins. 

The February 2020 letter confronted scrutiny after thought of one in every of many authors, Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance and member of The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission, didn’t disclose competing pursuits and was later “recused” from engaged on the origins of the pandemic. Daszak has since up to date his disclosure assertion to incorporate data relating to EcoHealth’s work in China. 

In July, the an an identical group of consultants all through the 2020 letter printed one completely different letter reaffirming their notion that COVID-19 developed in nature whereas urging others to “turn down the heat of the rhetoric and turn up the light of scientific inquiry.”

The authors of Friday’s letter argued that the opposite group’s statements have had a “silencing effect on the wider scientific debate, including among science journalists.”

“Scientific journals should open their columns to in-depth analyses of all hypotheses,” they argued. “As scientists, we need to evaluate all hypotheses on a rational basis, and to weigh their likelihood based on facts and evidence, devoid of speculation concerning possible political impacts.”

“More importantly, science embraces alternative hypotheses, contradictory arguments, verification, refutability, and controversy,” they continued. “Departing from this principle risks establishing dogmas, abandoning the essence of science, and, even worse, paving the way for conspiracy theories. Instead, the scientific community should bring this debate to a place where it belongs: the columns of scientific journals.”

A World Health Organization-led investigation into the virus obtained fairly a bit scrutiny over its inconclusive ends in March, and China has rejected a second a part of an investigation into its origin. The scientists in Friday’s article talked about that whereas the preliminary evaluation concluded the laboratory origin was “extremely unlikely,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared that each one hypotheses remained on the desk. 

The authors then often known as for an “evidence-based, independent and prejudice-free evaluation” into the virus’ origins, which they talked about would require “an international consultation of high-level experts with no conflicts of interest, from various disciplines and countries.”

Alexandria Hein contributed reporting.