The Origin of COVID-19 Doesn’t Matter


The search for COVID-19’s origins is unnecessary and politically motivated. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Four years later and the origins of COVID-19 still haven’t been discovered. Even after multiple intense investigations. Even after endless theories and controversy. Even to this day, more and more information is released fairly frequently, each new piece bound to contradict the next. For example, a team of scientists recently brought new information to the World Health Organization claiming that the COVID-19 outbreak originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. They claim the virus was transferred to humans from a raccoon dog sold there. However, others believe the pandemic was caused by an accidental lab leak, sparking controversial debate. Night and day, scientists and politicians fight and scream for their own theories. Night and day, they grapple to answer one of today’s greatest questions: Where did this virus come from?

But it’s all pointless.

Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 is an issue that should be taken seriously. People lost, and are still losing, their lives, so attention and care should be brought to the situation. However, I do not believe that finding the origin of this virus is the right way to do this. Therefore, do I believe we should still be searching for it? To put it simply: No.

My belief in this idea stems from trying to answer a simple question: “What is the true reward for discovering COVID-19’s origin?” And I’ve come up with two theoretical answers. The first one is that if we find the pandemic’s origin, we can understand how to better prevent another one. The second is that we use this information of COVID-19’s origin to point fingers. 

Now, we can pretend that as a society, we are more focused on the former — all we truly want is to learn how to better prevent another global pandemic and save lives, and that pointing fingers is the last thing on our minds. But this is not the reality. Chaos would erupt in the blink of an eye. Say we discover the origin really was a lab leak. What would happen then? We all finally have someone to blame? I can see it now: news article after news article filled with vulgar language. Maybe even some blaming an entire country for a group of scientists’ mistake. Conspiracy theories questioning whether or not it was a mistake at all. International relations would be at a catastrophic low — relations that we depend on to function. Or, say it was really a disease transferred from a raccoon dog. How much more invasive digging would it take to uncover this information? How many more politically-driven accusations would have to be thrown to get to this point? 

Still, casting the blame game aside, one can argue that looking for a virus’s origin can help prevent another pandemic, and I agree. However, I would only agree with this statement if the cause of the virus was completely and utterly unknown. In this scenario, this is not the case. In this scenario, we are stuck between two options, an animal or a lab leak, two sides of a playing field that is causing yet another division to our society. 

Therefore, if we are looking to prevent another global pandemic, why not seek to prevent both? Implement greater protocols to prevent a lab leak. Study to better understand how a virus leaps from animals to humans. 

All this being said, I am no scientist.  I cannot fully understand the implications of discovering the true origins of a virus. However, what I do know is that today, after years of study, the question is no longer “Where did the virus originate?” but “Which theory is right?” This question has caused a great divide that is no longer logical but political. How much longer will we be grappling for an answer that we may never find, when we could be spending this time and these resources to actually prevent the next pandemic?

Abigail Martin, FCRH ’26, is a journalism major from Dallas, Texas.