A pair of new research studies suggest COVID-19 was released from a wet market in Wuhan, China, and that "two zoonotic events" led to the virus' infection in humans.
The researchers pointed to an outbreak of cases around the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in late 2019.
"When you look at all of the evidence together, it's an extraordinarily clear picture that the pandemic started at the Huanan market," Michael Worobey, the co-author of both studies, told The New York Times.
In a line of research deemed separate from Worobey's, scientists with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday published a study reporting that two main evolutionary branches of the early COVID-19 models were found at the Huanan Seafood Market.
Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, who claims to have not known of the Chinese study until it was published, says the findings are consistent with those of his and his colleagues' findings.
"The beauty of it is how simply it all adds up now," said Jeremy Kamil, a Louisiana State University virologist who was not involved in the study.
The research conducted at the Arizona university analyzed patterns of the market at the origin of the outbreak, determining the coronavirus had spread into surrounding neighborhoods before jumping across the city. They further determined the outbreak's origins at the market were not mere chance.
"It's very strong statistical evidence that this is no coincidence," Worobey added.
However, according to Moderna's CEO, the notion of a lab leak at the Wuhan Institue of Virology, located 13 miles away by road from the market, remains a "possibility."
In an interview with FOX News, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel was asked about a study published by the Frontiers in Virology, which determined that COVID-19 matches a genetic sequence of DNA patented by Moderna.
He said: "My scientists are looking into those data to see how accurate they are or not. As I've said before, the hypothesis of an escape from a lab by an accident is possible. Humans make mistakes."
"So it is possible that the Wuhan lab in China was working on virus enhancement or gene modification, and then there's an accident where somebody was infected in a lab and then infected family and friends."
He also said a lab leak was "possible" and "scientists are analyzing to know if it's real or not."
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