US govt lab found it ‘plausible’ Covid-19 leaked from Wuhan lab, WSJ report says

File photo of the Wuhan Institute of Virology | Commons

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New Delhi: A 2020 report by a US government national laboratory found it ‘plausible’ that Covid-19 leaked from a lab in China’s Wuhan and that the possibility deserves further investigation, reported the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.

The WSJ cited people familiar with the classified document, published on 27 May 2020, by a California-based federal research facility called Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The facility — founded by the University of California, Berkeley, in 1952 — is the Department of Energy’s premier biodefence research institution. It has an intelligence arm that prepared the study by analysing the genetic makeup of the virus.

The US State Department officials received the study in late October 2020 and asked for more information, reported the newspaper.

This comes after a top World Health Organization official said Tuesday that the international body cannot compel China to divulge more data on the origins of the virus.

Also read: Story of how ‘amateur sleuths’ forced world to consider Wuhan lab leak theory about Covid

Renewed interest in debate around virus origins

There has been renewed interest in the debate around the origin of Covid-19 in recent weeks, and the theory that it was from a possible lab leak has also been fanned to a great extent. Last week, US President Joe Biden ordered a closer intelligence investigation into the origins of Covid-19, asking for a report in 90 days.

However, China’s government has repeatedly denied that the virus escaped from a laboratory.

In July 2020, Shi Zhengli, who directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), denied there were any infections at the lab.

Last Thursday, top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci called on China to release medical records of workers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which could provide insight into whether the coronavirus emerged from a lab leak, the Financial Times reported. Earlier, in an interview with news channel MSNBC, he had said we may never find out the origin of the virus.

On 23 May, the Wall Street Journal, citing an undisclosed US intelligence report, reported that three researchers from WIV became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care.

Earlier in April, Avril Haines, Director of US National Intelligence, had said Chinese leaders “have not been forthcoming through this process”.

Also read: Wondering how a killer virus can possibly leak out of a secure lab? This is how


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