The global coronavirus death toll has officially reached 1 million — although experts believe the actual death toll is much higher

begin quote from:

A leading scientist said the world needs to understand the origins of COVID-19 to prevent 'COVID-26 and COVID-32,' adding to growing calls to investigate the lab-leak theory

Sarah Al-Arshani
·3 min read
covid mask and shield
A Nepalese health worker in protective gear, ready to collect swab samples to test them for the coronavirus in Singh Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • A growing number of experts are calling for further investigation into the origin of COVID-19.

  • New reports undermine the theory that the virus was transmitted from animals to people.

  • A scientist said understanding the origin is critical for preventing future coronavirus outbreaks.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A prominent scientist said understanding the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for the sake of future public health.

"There's going to be covid-26 and covid-32 unless we fully understand the origins of covid-19," Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor University and a leading expert on the virus, said Sunday on NBC News's "Meet The Press."

Hotez's call for a full investigation into the origin of the pandemic is the latest among experts and politicians to understand if the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said he's no longer completely convinced the coronavirus originated naturally.

Since March of this year, there have been several reports that have made experts call on further investigating the origins of the virus.

Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told CNN in March he still thought the coronavirus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The following month, a team from the World Health Organization spent a month in Wuhan investigating the origin of the coronavirus and said a lab leak was "extremely unlikely." However, WHO said they were unable to access China's lab and were not given raw data.

This month, The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the lab had gotten sick and went to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms in November 2019, a month before China said it found its first case.

Last week, President Joe Biden revealed that he asked the intelligence community to create a report on the origins of the virus in March. In light of the new reports, Biden has asked that investigators "redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days."

Hotez, however, said he doesn't think an investigation by the intelligence community would be very helpful.

"I'm personally of the opinion that we've pushed intelligence about as far as we can. What we need to do is we need to do an outbreak investigation. We need a team of scientists, of epidemiologists, virologists, bat ecologists in Hubei province for a six to six-month, year-long period and fully unravel the origins of COVID-19," he said.

China has repeatedly denied the claims that the virus originated in their lab and has refused to cooperate with investigations.