Wuhan lab leak 'now the most likely origin of Covid', MPs told

A laboratory leak is now the more likely origin of Covid, MPs have heard, because after two years of searching an animal host has never been found.

Dr Alina Chan, a specialist in gene therapy and cell engineering at MIT and Harvard, told the Science and Technology Select Committee that a Wuhan lab leak may be to blame for the original outbreak. She said: “I think the lab origin is more likely than not.

"Right now it’s not safe for people who know about the origin of the pandemic to come forward.

"But we live in an era where there is so much information being stored that it will eventually come out.”

Dr Chan also warned that is possible the virus was engineered by scientists. She added: “We have heard from many top virologists that a genetically engineered origin is reasonable and that includes virologists who made modifications to the first Sars virus.

“We know this virus has a unique feature, called the furin cleavage site, and without this feature, there is no way this would be causing this pandemic.

“A proposal was leaked showing that EcoHealth and the Wuhan Institute of Virology were developing a pipeline for inserting novel furin cleavage sites.

"So, you find these scientists who said in early 2018 ‘I’m going to put horns on horses’ and at the end of 2019 a unicorn turns up in Wuhan city.” And Dr Chan was not alone in her claims.

Also supporting this argument, Viscount Ridley, who co-authored a book on the origin of the virus alongside Dr Chan, explained to MPs why she believed this is the most reasonable explanation for COVID-19’s origins.

Lord Ridley said: “I also think it’s more likely than not because we have to face the fact after two months we knew the origins of Sars, and after a couple of months we knew Mers was though through camels, but after two years we still haven't found a single infected animal that could be the progenitor, and that’s incredibly surprising.”

She stressed that further work needs to be done to prevent another widespread outbreak of a deadly virus.

Lord Ridley told MPs: “We need to find out so we can prevent the next pandemic. We need to know whether we should be tightening up work in laboratories or whether we should be tightening up regulations related to wildlife markets.

"At the moment we are really not doing either."