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Virus hunters zero in on a possible culprit in COVID-19 origin

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Virus hunters zero in on a possible culprit in COVID-19 origin

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Scientists have banded together across international borders to condemn the nationalist-tinged conspiracy theories. A vacuum of knowledge about the origins of the new coronavirus ravaging the world has provided fertile ground for all manner of theories — from the fantastic, to the dubious to the believable.

It was a bioweapon manufactured by the Chinese. The US Army brought the virus to Wuhan. It leaked — like a genie out of a bottle — from a lab in an accident. It took root at a wildlife market in Wuhan.

Scientists have banded together across international borders to condemn the nationalist-tinged conspiracy theories. And yet, they are divided on what was once widely thought the most likely culprit: a so-called wet market in Wuhan, where wild animals are kept in cages and sold as pets or food. It is believed that a bat-infected animal — perhaps a pangolin — infected the first human.

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The truth of how this began remains elusive. But CNN spoke to more than half a dozen virus experts about the origins of the outbreak, and all of them say anyone who claims to know the source of Covid-19 is guessing. The scientists say there is zero evidence the Chinese or American government purposefully introduced the new coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — to the public.

To date, one thing seems likely: It came from bats.

Experts at odds over wet-market theory It’s "the most simple, obvious and likely explanation," said Dr. Simon Anthony, a professor at the public health grad school of Columbia University and a key member of PREDICT, a federally funded global program investigating viruses in animal hosts with pandemic potential. […]

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