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Covid-19: a disaster five years in the making

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Dear Editor
In a wide ranging editorial1, Peter Hotez rightly emphasized the importance of scientific approaches for stemming the Covid-19 pandemic via policies such as mass vaccinations, social distancing, and avoidance of political meddling. However, the analysis might have fleshed out the complex interactions between scientific, socioeconomic, and demographic variables for the formulation of evidence-based policies. First, while it seems reasonable to mention possible Russian misinformation campaign concerning SARS-CoV-2 , it is odd to omit the unhelpful role of the Chinese government in delaying the information that could provide insights into the phylogeny of the virus. This is especially important in view of the unsubstantiated claim by the former Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a Wuhan laboratory. Perhaps more importantly, it seems risky if not premature to conduct “gain-of-function” research altering viral genomes in laboratories if there is even a miniscule chance that deadly pathogens can escape into the population.

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