Home » News » World » Wuhan Story That Refuses to Die: New Probe Shows Scientists Who Dismissed Lab Leak Theory Have Links to Chinese
3-MIN READ

Wuhan Story That Refuses to Die: New Probe Shows Scientists Who Dismissed Lab Leak Theory Have Links to Chinese

By: Bharvi Dasson

News18.com

Last Updated: September 13, 2021, 14:36 IST

Investigators have sought genetic data from 22,000 virus samples that were being studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. (Image: CNN)

Investigators have sought genetic data from 22,000 virus samples that were being studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. (Image: CNN)

A classified US intelligence report - saying three researchers at the Wuhan laboratory were treated in hospital in November 2019, just before the virus began infecting humans in the city.

Nearly two years since Covid-19 was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the question of the virus’s origin still remains unanswered. However, in recent weeks, the controversial claim that the virus must have been leaked from a Chinese laboratory- which has been dismissed earlier- is gaining momentum.

Recently, a probe carried out by The Telegraph has revealed that 26 out of 27 scientists who wrote a letter in The Lancet medical journal trashing the lab-leak theory of the COVID-19 outbreak have or had links to researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In February 2020, a letter published by The Lancet stated that they “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin,” and had claimed that scientists from multiple countries overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.’The authors of the letter had not revealed any link with the Wuhan lab, soon it was revealed that the letter was orchestrated by British zoologist Peter Daszak, president of the US-based EcoHealth Alliance, which funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In June last year, the journal issued a clarification regarding Peter Daszak’s link with the laboratory, admitting that vital information was not revealed earlier when the letter was published.

What is the Lab-leak Theory?

It is suspected that the coronavirus may have escaped, accidentally or otherwise, from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan- where the virus was first recorded. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has been studying coronaviruses in bats for over a decade. The institute is located within 40 minutes from the Huanan wet market where the first cluster of infections emerged in Wuhan.

However, those who support the theory say it could have leaked from a WIV lab and spread to the wet market. Whereas, a few counter and say that this could have been an altered virus collected from the wild, rather than engineered. The theory was promoted by then-President Donald Trump and some even suggested it could have been engineered as a possible biological weapon. Nevertheless, the idea has once again resurfaced, triggering debates across the world.

How did the Theory Resurface?

After Donald Trump’s claims, the controversy never died in US media, raising fresh concerns over the engineered virus claims. Some scientists who were once sceptical of the idea have expressed fresh openness to it. A classified US intelligence report - saying three researchers at the Wuhan laboratory were treated in hospital in November 2019, just before the virus began infecting humans in the city.

It was reported that the Biden administration had shut down a US state department investigation, set up by President Trump into the lab-leak theory. However, in July, senior Biden administration officials overseeing an intelligence review into the origins now believed that the theory of virus accidentally escaping from the Wuhan lab was at least as credible as the possibility that it emerged naturally in the wild, CNN reported.

US expert Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the US senate committee on 11 May that the “possibility certainly exists, and I am totally in favour of a full investigation of whether that could have happened.”

Is the Lab-leak theory about science or politics?

The new assessment by the US spy agencies and health experts of the origins of Covid-19 that was recently delivered to the White House didn’t yield a definitive conclusion on whether humans contracted the Coronavirus naturally, or via a lab leak. In part because of the lack of detailed information from China, two senior U.S. officials said. The assessment was ordered by President Biden 90 days ago, highlighting the administration’s difficult challenge to wrest more information from Beijing that would shed light on how the global pandemic began.

Wall Street Journal in August last week reported, Joe Biden’s security staff was to submit a new report on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. His team was given 90 days in May to review the virus’s origins after several US scientists indicated they were no longer certain about the source of Sars-CoV-2.

The questions still remain unanswered, did it emerge because of natural viral spillovers from bats to another animal and then into humans? Or did it leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here

Tags:
  1. wuhan
first published:September 12, 2021, 14:12 IST
last updated:September 13, 2021, 14:36 IST
Read More