China feels Covid heat as study backs lab theory

Published on May 31, 2021 02:35 AM IST
  • Scientists tried to reverse-engineer the virus to make it appear natural, says a new research.
A medical worker collects a swab from a resident during a mass testing for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at a makeshift testing site at a stadium in Guangzhou, China.(via REUTERS)
A medical worker collects a swab from a resident during a mass testing for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at a makeshift testing site at a stadium in Guangzhou, China.(via REUTERS)
Agencies | , London, Washington

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.

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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 Nadhim Zahawi to demand that the World Health Organization must fully investigate the origins of the deadly virus.

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