ASM Responds to Senate HELP Report on COVID Origins
Washington, D.C. – On Oct. 27, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Minority oversight staff released an interim report titled, “An Analysis of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” ASM appreciates the efforts of Senate staff to provide a preliminary overview of existing information related to the origin of SARS-CoV-2, but ASM respectfully disagrees with the report’s conclusion. At this time, ASM does not believe there is enough available evidence about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 to support the report’s overarching conclusion.
ASM supports the report’s call for China to be more forthcoming with information on the source of the pandemic, as international collaboration and transparency are essential when the entire population’s health is at risk. With more information, it is likely we could come to more definitive conclusions about the pandemic’s origins. We also agree with the report’s assertion that biocontainment laboratories around the world must enforce safety. While there is a robust regulatory framework for conducting this type of research in the U.S., the report highlights that this is not the case elsewhere.
Unraveling the origins of the pandemic is necessary to prepare for future pandemics. ASM encourages continued investment in transparent, evidence-based efforts to provide greater certainty about the pandemic origins. At the same time, we advise that the future direction of pandemic-related policies be rooted in sound scientific principles, with appropriate precautions to protect public health, rather than preliminary assumptions.
ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications, educational opportunities and advocacy efforts. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.