What does the science say about the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/02/28/1160162845/what-does-the-science-say-about-the-origin-of-the-sars-cov-2-pandemic
Since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic began three years ago, its origin has been a topic of much scientific and political debate. Two main theories exist: The virus spilled over from an animal into people, most likely in a market in Wuhan, China, or the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and spread due to some type of laboratory accident.
The Wall Street Journal added to that debate this week when they reported that the U.S. Department of Energy has shifted its stance on the origin of COVID. It now concludes, with "low confidence," that the pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak in Wuhan, China.
The agency based their conclusion on classified evidence that isn't available to the public. According to the federal government, "low confidence" means "the information used in the analysis is scant, questionable, fragmented, or that solid analytical conclusions cannot be inferred from the information."
And at this point, the U.S. intelligence community still has no consensus about the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Four of the eight intelligence agencies lean toward a natural origin for the virus, with "low confidence," while two of them the DOE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation support a lab origin, with the latter having "moderate confidence" about their conclusion.
But at the end of the day, the origin of the pandemic is also a scientific question. Virologists, who study pandemic origins, are much less divided than the U.S. intelligence community. They say there is "very convincing" data and "overwhelming evidence" pointing to an animal origin.
The virus was not engineered... hence the "arose in nature" conclusion of many scientists. Had it been "man made" I believe it would have exhibited certain genetic features that virologists would recognize.
However, that does not mean it wasn't collected from animals in the wild (bats in caves or something) and ended up in a lab... and infected humans in the lab that later infected other humans.
Could the virus have been genetically enhanced (gain of function) in a lab... possibly, but not necessary for the "lab leak" theory to be true. The virus has shown a great propensity to mutate... all it needed was a change in the animal that allowed it to spread (us) and the environment in which it now thrives (ours).
So many people were ignorant assholes about how to react to it that it became much worse and spread more rapidly and widely than of people had paid better attention to the science of containing it in the moment.
Those of us who posted that this may be something to be concerned about were ridiculed.
and that is where virological/genetic evidence is most compelling in strongly arguing against that premise.
Is it possible that the Wuhan lab was studying an animal virus that they isolated from a bat or other species and a technological or human error (or both) allowed for a viable form of that virus to "escape" the lab, spreading to human populations of Wuhan and then becoming epidemic in China and quickly pandemic through the world? Yes. It happens. Marburg virus (a deadly hemorrhagic filovirus) is one such example where lab techs self-exposed in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany more than 40 years ago, but it was rapidly contained.
But conflating this with a "created" virus is where the conspiracy theorists want to take it and very little is being said/reported to push back on this conflation via this "low confidence" summation from DOE and now FBI.
Science matters. And no, these security agencies are not staffed with virologists/epidemiologists/wildlife biologists. Just because they have a role in some of our nation's labs and their security, does not make them so.
Some want to politicize it once again which is why I take whatever the FBI says with a grain of salt.
Zoonotic diseases have happened in the past and it is the most parsimonious answer.