Timeline: The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2

Emily Kopp

“The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” is one of the most influential scientific articles in history.

In February 2020 — about a month before a pandemic had been declared — five top virologists huddled to examine aspects of a rapidly emerging coronavirus that seemed primed to infect human cells. (The furin cleavage site kept one virologist up all night.) A few days later, they concluded the virus had not been engineered. In March, their conclusions were published in Nature Medicine.

… It took 15 months and a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to reveal that each of the five authors had expressed private concerns about engineering or the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s store of novel coronaviruses.

Also troubling: A confidential teleconference organized by Wellcome Trust Director Jeremy Farrar had framed early drafts of the article. But several scientists on the call had undisclosed conflicts of interest.

This timeline compiles several sources in an effort to flesh out the backstory of the enormously influential article. The timeline is likely to grow as more information emerges. All times have been approximated to Eastern Time.

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