Despite the widely held view that SARS-CoV-2 originated in nature, former U.S. President Donald J. Trump amplified the theory that the virus escaped by accident from a biosafety level 4 lab in the Wuhan Institute of Virology in April 2020.
Since the first half of 2021, this theory has gained further traction on international media without the emergence of any evidence.
The global science community is divided on where to look next. Some have reiterated their support for the theory of zoonotic origin of the virus while others argue both the zoonotic origin and the lab leak theories remain equally viable.
Against this background, a virtual international experts' dialogue on re-calibration on COVID-19 origins tracing study was held on August 20, 2021. International experts spoke on their understanding of the situation, the principles and work mechanism that should be adhered to, and the lessons learnt so far in SARS-CoV-2 origins tracing work.
The event was organized by the Global Governance Institution (GGI-JS), China and China Forum of the Center for International Security and Strategy (CISS), Tsinghua University, China.
CGTN's LIU Xin (also a China Forum expert) moderated the discussion along with Andy (Shichen) TIAN, President of GGI-JS.
The speakers were:
Wu Chung-I, Professor in evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago; Yangtze River scholar and chair professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, China.
Shi Weifeng, School of Public Health, Shandong First Medical University and Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences, China.
Peter Forster, Director of Research, Institute for Forensic Genetics, Muenster, Germany; FluxusTechnology Ltd, Cambridge, United Kingdom; former fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (Archaeogenetics group), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Jonathan Stoye, Senior Group Leader, Retrovirus-Host Interactions Laboratory, The Francis Crick Institute, United Kingdom.
Eric Feigl-Ding, Epidemiologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital; instructor in medicine, Harvard Medical School, the U.S.; senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC, the U.S.
Luis Enjuanes, International member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States; CSIC research professor at the National Center for Biotechnology and Director of the Coronavirus Group, Spain.
Wu Zhiwei, Professor at the Nanjing University Public Health Research Center, China.