Viruses have brought humanity many challenges: respiratory infection, cancer, neurological impairment and immunosuppression to name a few. Virology research over the last 60+ years has responded to reduce this disease burden with vaccines and antivirals. Despite this long history, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented attention to the field of virology. Some of this attention is focused on concern about the safe conduct of research with human pathogens. A small but vocal group of individuals has seized upon these concerns – conflating legitimate questions about safely conducting virus-related research with uncertainties over the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The result has fueled public confusion and, in many instances, ill-informed condemnation of virology. With this article, we seek to promote a return to rational discourse. We explain the use of gain-of-function approaches in science, discuss the possible origins of SARS-CoV-2 and outline current regulatory structures that provide oversight for virological research in the United States. By offering our expertise, we – a broad group of working virologists – seek to aid policy makers in navigating these controversial issues. Balanced, evidence-based discourse is essential to addressing public concern while maintaining and expanding much-needed research in virology.


© 2023 Goodrum et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite as

Goodrum, F., Lowen, A., Lakdawala, S., Alwine, J., Casadevall, A., Imperiale, M., Atwood, W., Avgousti, D., Baines, J., Banfield, B., Banks, L., Bhaduri-McIntosh, S., Bhattacharya, D., Blanco-Melo, D., Bloom, D., Boon, A., Boulant, S., Brandt, C., Broadbent, A., Brooke, C., Cameron, C., Campos, S., Caposio, P., Chan, G., Cliffe, A., Coffin, J., Collins, K., Damania, B., Daugherty, M., Debbink, K., DeCaprio, J., Dermody, T., Dikeakos, J., DiMaio, D., Dinglasan, R., Duprex, W., Dutch, R., Elde, N., Emerman, M., Enquist, L., Fane, B., Fernandez-Sesma, A., Flenniken, M., Frappier, L., Frieman, M., Frueh, K., Gack, M., Gaglia, M., Gallagher, T., Galloway, D., García-Sastre, A., Geballe, A., Glaunsinger, B., Goff, S., Greninger, A., Hancock, M., Harris, E., Heaton, N., Heise, M., Heldwein, E., Hogue, B., Horner, S., Hutchinson, E., Hyser, J., Jackson, W., Kalejta, R., Kamil, J., Karst, S., Kirchhoff, F., Knipe, D., Kowalik, T., Lagunoff, M., Laimins, L., Langlois, R., Lauring, A., Lee, B., Leib, D., Liu, S., Longnecker, R., López, C., Luftig, M., Lund, J., Manicassamy, B., McFadden, G., McIntosh, M., Mehle, A., Miller, W., Mohr, I., Moody, C., Moorman, N., Moscona, A., Mounce, B., Munger, J., Münger, K., Murphy, E., Naghavi, M., Nelson, J., Neufeldt, C., Nikolich, J., O'Connor, C., Ono, A., Orenstein, W., Ornelles, D., Ou, J., Parker, J., Parrish, C., Pekosz, A., Pellett, P., Pfeiffer, J., Plemper, R., Polyak, S., Purdy, J., Pyeon, D., Quinones-Mateu, M., Renne, R., Rice, C., Schoggins, J., Roller, R., Russell, C., Sandri-Goldin, R., Sapp, M., Schang, L., Schmid, S., Schultz-Cherry, S., Semler, B., Shenk, T., Silvestri, G., Simon, V., Smith, G., Smith, J., Spindler, K., Stanifer, M., Subbarao, K., Sundquist, W., Suthar, M., Sutton, T., Tai, A., Tarakanova, V., tenOever, B., Tibbetts, S., Tompkins, S., Toth, Z., van Doorslaer, K., Vignuzzi, M., Wallace, N., Walsh, D., Weekes, M., Weinberg, J., Weitzman, M., Weller, S., Whelan, S., White, E., Williams, B., Wobus, C., Wong, S. & Yurochko, A. 2023, 'Virology under the microscope — a call for rational discourse', Journal of Virology. https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00089-23

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Last updated: 27 October 2023
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