The possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, may have escaped from a laboratory should not be ruled out. This is what the former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control says in an interview with the BBC.
Chinese authorities completely reject the possibility that the coronavirus that caused the 2020 pandemic leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
George Gao, currently vice president of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, is not sure, however. Speaking as part of a BBC Radio 4 podcast, he explains: "You can always suspect anything. It's science. Don't rule anything out."
According to him, Beijing has conducted an investigation into the matter in some form, which, however, has not involved his institution and he does not know the details. The BBC interpreted this as a possible "sign that the Chinese government may have taken the lab leak theory more seriously than official research suggests".
So far, China has not confirmed that such an investigation is underway. The subject of a laboratory origin has resurfaced in the public domain following claims by US officials that they allowed such a possibility after it was initially perceived as conspiratorial.
Declassified US intelligence data indicates that several researchers at the institute fell ill as early as the fall of 2019 with similar symptoms. Other scientists, including one who visited the institute in 2020, who spoke to the BBC, however, support the idea that the source of origin is a market in Wuhan after all - the generally accepted version of events.
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