Journal article Open Access

Outlines of a probabilistic evaluation of possible SARS-CoV-2 origins

Demaneuf, Gilles; De Maistre, Rodolphe

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  <identifier identifierType="DOI">10.5281/zenodo.4067919</identifier>
      <creatorName>Demaneuf, Gilles</creatorName>
      <nameIdentifier nameIdentifierScheme="ORCID" schemeURI="">0000-0001-7277-9533</nameIdentifier>
      <creatorName>De Maistre, Rodolphe</creatorName>
      <familyName>De Maistre</familyName>
      <nameIdentifier nameIdentifierScheme="ORCID" schemeURI="">0000-0002-3433-2420</nameIdentifier>
    <title>Outlines of a probabilistic evaluation of possible SARS-CoV-2 origins</title>
    <subject>risk assessment</subject>
    <subject>laboratory escape</subject>
    <subject>laboratory acquired infection (LAI)</subject>
    <subject>bayesian probabilities</subject>
    <date dateType="Issued">2020-09-26</date>
  <resourceType resourceTypeGeneral="JournalArticle"/>
    <alternateIdentifier alternateIdentifierType="url"></alternateIdentifier>
    <relatedIdentifier relatedIdentifierType="DOI" relationType="IsVersionOf">10.5281/zenodo.4051156</relatedIdentifier>
    <relatedIdentifier relatedIdentifierType="URL" relationType="IsPartOf"></relatedIdentifier>
    <rights rightsURI="">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International</rights>
    <rights rightsURI="info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess">Open Access</rights>
    <description descriptionType="Abstract">&lt;p&gt;We explore the relative probabilities of a lab-related accident against a non-lab-related zoonotic event being at the root of the current COVID-19 pandemic. We show that, based on present knowledge, the relative probability of a lab-related accident against a non-lab related zoonotic event is not negligible across a wide range of defensible input probabilities.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;For instance, under a reference set of input probabilities, the relative probabilities are at least 55% for a lab-related event against 45% at most for a non-lab-related zoonotic event. Even under a particularly conservative set of assumptions the relative probability of the lab-related accident is still 6% (to 94% for the non-lab related zoonotic event).&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;Through a review of the Chinese specialised literature, we further show that our underlying estimate for the probability of lab-acquired infection is consistent with risk assessments from Chinese authorities and specialists. As part of this study, we list 112 individual&amp;nbsp;BSL-3 labs in China, across 62 lab complexes.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;We then review a list of common probabilistic misunderstandings that are often associated with discussions about COVID-19 origins and conclude by discussing how such a probabilistic treatment can also offer a way to properly guide an investigation into the causes of the pandemic while being able to embrace different estimates of the underlying probabilities.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;strong&gt;Note: This paper is produced by the authors strictly in their personal capacity, and&amp;nbsp;should not be constructed as representing in any way the opinion of any of the institutions the authors are employed or associated to.&amp;nbsp;&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description>
    <description descriptionType="Other">This paper comes with a spreadsheet listing 112 individual BSL-3 labs in China across 62 lab-complexes.</description>
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