The corresponding authors of the Small paper did not respond to questions from Nature’s news team about why they asked for the sequences to be removed from the SRA, which happened before the paper was published. In a statement, the NIH said it removed the data at the request of the researchers, who said they planned to submit them to another database.
Bloom — who co-authored a letter calling for a renewed investigation into the origins of the pandemic, including the possibility that the virus escaped or leaked from a lab — says his study sheds no light on the origins of the pandemic, nor on why the sequences were removed. But he hopes his efforts will encourage researchers to “think outside the box” and look to other sources, such as archival data, to glean more information from the early days of the pandemic. “There are probably more data out there,” he says.
This article is reproduced with permission and was first published on June 24 2021.