Scientists Cast Doubt On Theory Coronavirus Came From Wuhan Lab : Short Wave The Trump administration has advanced the theory the coronavirus began as a lab accident, but scientists who research bat-borne coronaviruses disagree. Speaking with NPR, ten virologists and epidemiologists say the far more likely culprit is zoonotic spillover⁠—transmission of the virus between animals and humans in nature. We explain how zoonotic spillover works and why it's more plausible than a lab accident.
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Scientists Think The Coronavirus Transmitted Naturally, Not In A Lab. Here's Why.

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Scientists Think The Coronavirus Transmitted Naturally, Not In A Lab. Here's Why.

Scientists Think The Coronavirus Transmitted Naturally, Not In A Lab. Here's Why.

Scientists Think The Coronavirus Transmitted Naturally, Not In A Lab. Here's Why.

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/850955844/851098381" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The facility is among a handful of labs around the world cleared to handle Class 4 pathogens (P4) - dangerous viruses that pose a high risk of person-to-person transmission. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The facility is among a handful of labs around the world cleared to handle Class 4 pathogens (P4) - dangerous viruses that pose a high risk of person-to-person transmission.

Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration has advanced the theory the coronavirus began as a lab accident, amid U.S. intelligence investigations, but scientists who research bat-borne coronaviruses disagree. Speaking with NPR, ten virologists and epidemiologists say the far more likely culprit is zoonotic spillover⁠ — transmission of the virus between animals and humans in nature.

Geoff Brumfiel, NPR senior science editor and correspondent, and Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong explain how bat coronavirus research works, what zoonotic spillover is, and why some scientists worry the lab theory could undermine the kind of scientific cooperation needed to get a grip on this pandemic.

Read more of Geoff and Emily's reporting here. And listen to our episode on bats and virus hunters here.

This episode was produced by Abby Wendle, edited by Viet Le and fact-checked by Emily Vaughn.