China Comes Under Scrutiny As Study Backs Lab Theory For Covid Origin

Amid calls for a fresh probe into the origins of Covid-19, a new study has claimed that Chinese scientists created the virus in a laboratory in Wuhan and then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats.The virus has no “credible natural ancestor” and was created by Chinese scientists who were working on a gain-of-function research in a Wuhan lab, The Daily Mail reported on Sunday, citing a research paper compiled by British expert Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Birger Sorensen.

Incidentally, gain-of-function projects, which involve tweaking natural viruses to make them more infectious, were banned in the US during the Obama years.The research claims scientists took a natural coronavirus “backbone” found in China’s cave bats and spliced onto it a new “spike”, turning it into the Covid-19 virus. The researchers also claim to have found “unique fingerprints” in Covid-19 samples that they say could have arisen from manipulation in a laboratory.

The authors claim they had prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China for a year. The study alleged “deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data” at Chinese labs. In the paper that is likely to be published in the journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, Dalgleish and Sorensen claim to have concluded how Chinese scientists built the tools to create the coronavirus.

President Joe Biden’s directive to the US intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect information to facilitate a definitive conclusion on the origin of Sars-CoV-2 has angered China, which said on Thursday that the US is playing politics. The country, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, again dismissed the theory that it could have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, ground zero of the pandemic.India on Friday backed calls for further investigation into the origin of Covid-19, and sought the cooperation of China and other parties for such studies, days after US President Joe Biden gave intelligence agencies 90 days to submit a fresh report at a time when scientists are seeking deeper examination of a theory that the virus may have originated in a lab.

External affairs ministry spokesperson ArindamBagchi said that a World Health Organization (WHO)-led study into a virus’s origin was an “important first step”, and more studies were needed to reach “robust conclusions”.“WHO convened global study on the origin of Covid-19 is an important first step. It stressed the need for next phase studies as also for further data and studies to reach robust conclusions,” Bagchi said in a statement. Without naming China, he added, “The follow up of the WHO report and further studies deserve the understanding and cooperation of all.”

British intelligence agencies believe it is “feasible” that the pandemic began with a virus leak from the Chinese lab, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday, prompting vaccines minister NadhimZahawi to demand that the World Health Organization must fully investigate the origins of the deadly virus.

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