A former Chinese government scientist said of the theory that Covid-19 was leaked from a lab: “You can always guess.”
Virologist and immunologist Professor George Gao was previously head of the China Center for Disease Control (CDC) and is now vice president of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
He told the BBC Radio 4 podcast Fever: The Hunt for Covid’s Origin: “You can always guess anything.” That’s science. “Don’t rule anything out.”
Professor Gao played a key role in China’s response to the pandemic and in its efforts to trace the origin of the pandemic.
But China has always vigorously denied the suggestion that the virus may have originated in a Wuhan lab.
The Chinese Embassy in the UK said: “The so-called ‘laboratory leak’ is a lie fabricated by anti-Chinese forces. It is politically motivated and lacks any scientific basis.”
Wuhan was the site of the first lockdown of the 2020 pandemic and where the novel coronavirus Covid-19 was discovered.
The capital of Hubei Province is home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), one of China’s leading national laboratories, which has been dedicated to research into coronaviruses for years.
Professor Gao said a kind of formal investigation was conducted and “the lab was checked again by the experts in the field.”
He said he didn’t see the result but “heard” the lab given the all-clear.
Professor Gao added, “I think their conclusion is that they follow all protocols.” They didn’t find it [any] Wrongdoing.’
Since the pandemic, many theories have been circulating again about the origin of Covid-19.
The current theory is that the virus jumped from animals to humans, with many scientists saying the evidence points to a natural origin.
A recent analysis by the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market – which has been linked to several early cases – also supports the notion that the pandemic may have started as a zoonotic spillover event.
Another idea is that Covid-19 infected someone researching the threat of naturally occurring viruses.
But the theory of a lab leak resurfaced in February, when a US government department report concluded that the virus most likely arose from such a leak.
However, an earlier investigation by the World Health Organization into the emergence of Covid-19 found that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus had leaked from a laboratory.
However, the podcast reported that the Chinese government rejected a second phase of investigation that would include audits of labs in the Wuhan area.
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