Research evidence suggests that SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV originated in bats. SARS-CoV then spread from infected civets to people, while MERS-CoV spreads from infected dromedary camels to people. To date, the origin of SARS-CoV-2 which caused the COVID-19 pandemic has not been identified. The scientific evidence thus far suggests that SARS-CoV-2 likely resulted from viral evolution in nature and jumped to people or through some unidentified animal host. Public health and scientific organizations are engaged in a continued international effort to uncover the origins of SARS-CoV-2, which is essential to preventing future pandemics.
SARS-CoV-2 and NIAID-Supported Bat Coronavirus Research
Unfortunately, because the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 have not yet been identified, misleading and false allegations have been made about NIAID-supported research on naturally occurring bat coronaviruses. Specifically, these allegations have targeted research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, funded through a subaward from NIAID grantee EcoHealth Alliance. The naturally occurring bat coronaviruses studied through this subaward were significantly, genetically different from SARS-CoV-2 and, therefore, could not have caused the COVID-19 pandemic. For a detailed, scientific analysis as to why this is the case, please see: SARS-COV-2 and NIAID-Supported Bat Coronavirus Research.