For weeks, the media has treated anyone even whispering about a coronavirus lab accident like a conspiracy theorist of the lowest species. While being forced to admit, at times, that there is no solid evidence tracing the outbreak to the Wuhan wet markets and that this is merely an assumption based on the best possible theories, they still insist that it’s ridiculous to think that it might have come from a Wuhan lab instead.
This, despite the fact that there are two laboratories within a few miles of the suspected wet market where scientists indeed study animals infected with coronaviruses.
Well, it may be that this particular conspiracy theory is slowly but surely gaining ground in certain expert communities. You know, like the UK government.
According to a new report from The Daily Mail, experts in UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government are now ready to give some credence to the possibility that these laboratories – not the wet markets – are ground zero.
“There is a credible alternative view based on the nature of the virus,” one government expert told the paper. “Perhaps it is no coincidence that there is that laboratory in Wuhan. It is not discounted.”
According to Business Insider, “there are two scientific labs within close proximity of Wuhan where scientists are believed to have been carrying out tests on the coronavirus: the Institute of Virology, and the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control. Both are within 10 miles of the animal market where it is believed the outbreak started.”
In a recent issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, biologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University said that public health officials could not yet rule out the possibility of a lab leak.
“Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection at BSL-2 [moderate biosafety level] with a virus having the transmission characteristics of the outbreak virus would pose substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker, the public,” he said. “We have a basis to rule out a lab construct, but no basis to rule out a lab accident.”
Interestingly, in mid-February, right around the time that Chinese leader Xi Jinping realized that his efforts to coverup the growing pandemic were not going to work, he held an emergency meeting with his top government advisers. In that meeting, Xi talked about the need to contain the coronavirus and also prevent such outbreaks in the future. But he didn’t focus on shutting down the Wuhan wet markets; he talked about shoring up the nation’s biosecurity.
“Xi didn’t actually admit that the coronavirus now devastating large swaths of China had escaped from one of the country’s bioresearch labs,” reported The New York Post on February 22. “But the very next day, evidence emerged suggesting that this is exactly what happened, as the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology released a new directive titled: ‘Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus.’”
Does this sound like a reasonable reaction to a virus that came from people eating bats and pangolins? Or does it sound like a reaction to poor biosecurity measures at Wuhan’s laboratories?
All we know is: The final chapter on this disease’s origins has not yet been written. Stay tuned.