Did the coronavirus leak from a Wuhan lab? Conflicting claims

Did the coronavirus leak from a Wuhan lab? Conflicting claims
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Did the coronavirus originate in a Wuhan, China lab? Speculations about that continue to circulate, and the answer to that question depends on the source. Some sources are reporting with great certainty that the COVID-19 novel coronavirus did indeed originate in a Wuhan lab. However, others cast serious doubt on that claim, and a search for supposed sources proving that it did turns up nothing.

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Wuhan lab specializes in coronaviruses

The Washington Times is one of the more recent news outlets to report on a possible link between the coronavirus and a Wuhan lab that specializes in virus research. The news outlet reports that government researchers in Wuhan isolated over 2,000 new viruses, including coronaviruses linked to bats. Chinese authorities would not give U.S. researchers access to samples of the coronavirus strains they isolated in the Wuhan lab.

The Washington Times highlighted one researcher of particular interest in relation to COVID-19. Tian Junhua has been researching bat viruses for quite some time, and he works at the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which is not far from the animal market the virus supposedly came from.

Another Wuhan lab that's been mentioned in connection with the coronavirus is the Wuhan Institute of Virology. According to The Washington Times, Rutgers University Professor Richard Ebright said COVID-19 is 96.2% similar to a bat virus isolated by that institute in 2013 and then studied at the Wuhan CDC.

He also noted that a video that's been circulating that shows Wuhan CDC workers and Tian working with bat viruses also indicates that they were working without the proper safety gear. Thus, it raises the possibility that a lab accident could be to blame for the pandemic.

COVID-19 is believed to have originated in bats. However, there are conflicting news reports about whether bats are sold at the animal market where the virus supposedly originated. It's possible another animal acted as an intermediator for the virus, or it may not have originated from the animal market at all. Thus, it lends credence to the possibility that the coronavirus somehow leaked out from the Wuhan lab.

Study presents the most compelling evidence

The Daily Mail and other news outlets presented what could be the most compelling evidence that the coronavirus known as COVID-19 may have been leaked from one of the labs in Wuhan. They cite a report from the South China University of Technology entitled "The possible origins of 2019-nCOV coronavirus."

According to the Daily Mail, the university "concludes that 'the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.'" The report also calls attention to the Wuhan CDC and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It also states that bats at the Wuhan CDC attacked a researcher and left blood on his skin. Further, the report suggests residents of the Wuhan area do not eat bats, which calls into question the reports about bats being sold at the animal market in the city.

The big problem with the cited report is that an internet search does not return any results, and no news outlet that referenced it has included a link to it. That leads to questions about whether the report actually exists. It's possible that the report did exist, but Chinese authorities had it removed from internet sources.

Several Chinese who have called into question the official tally of the number of COVID-19 cases in China have been silenced or detained, according to multiple news outlets. Thus, the removal of a report offering damning evidence suggesting that the coronavirus came from a Wuhan lab wouldn't be a surprise. However, without a single link to the original location of the report, it does call the source into question.

FBI arrests Chinese scientist with SARs vials in Detroit

Of note to this story, is a shocking revelation that came out on 3/31/2020. Yahoo News reports:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese scientist carrying vials believed to contain the MERS and SARS viruses in November 2018 — just over a year before the first reported Wuhan coronavirus case, according to an FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News.

This was not a one time event either, the article continues:

The report also lays out a pattern of Chinese interference, detailing two other cases from May 2018 and September 2019, in which different Chinese nationals tried to enter the U.S. with undeclared flu strains and suspected E. coli, respectively.

Even if the above story no connection to the current outbreak, it raises questions about why Chinese authorities were playing with coronaviruses and trying to bring it into America.

You can read the full story about the FBI arrest here.

Why the coronavirus may not have come from the Wuhan lab

Not everyone is convinced that the deadly coronavirus originated from a Wuhan lab. USA Today disputes those conspiracies. The newspaper mentions another article from the Washington Times, which was originally published in January.

This article theorizes that COVID-19 was engineered by the labs in Wuhan, although the news outlet later published an update saying that researchers outside China have studied the virus and learned that it doesn't show any signs of having been engineered by humans. However, it then suggests the theory that the coronavirus was accidentally leaked from a Wuhan lab instead of engineered by researchers there.

Chinese officials issued a statement denying the conspiracy theory about the Wuhan Institute of Virology engineering COVID-19. That statement was sent to the South China Morning Post. Some of the reports mentioned by the Post include claims that the military took over the lab, a researcher from the institute died of the virus, and a student studying there was patient zero.

The same Rutgers professor who pointed out the similarities between COVID-19 and a bat virus studied by the institute told The Washington Post that there were no signs of the virus being manmade. The Post also said that most of the countries that had been studying bioweapons abandoned their programs after not having any satisfactory results from years of research.

The Scripps Research Institute also issued a study saying that the virus is not manmade. A statement in the Lancet medical journal also indicates that the coronavirus originated in nature rather than a lab in Wuhan.

However, while these studies do prove that COVID-19 wasn't engineered in a lab, they do not disprove the theory that it may have been accidentally leaked from one of the labs working with similar viruses in China. It may be awhile before we find out the real source of the deadly virus, or we might never find out at all. China's lack of cooperation in releasing the coronavirus strains studied in the Wuhan labs has only strengthened the conspiracy theories.

Updated on

Michelle Jones is editor-in-chief for ValueWalk.com and has been with the site since 2012. Previously, she was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Email her at Mjones@wordpress-785388-2679526.cloudwaysapps.com.
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