Claims that the coronavirus pandemic spread from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan have no basis in fact, the head of the lab said, including that there were still no conclusive answers as to where the illness started.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed SARS-CoV-2, now responsible for over 200,000 deaths worldwide, was synthesized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), based in the metropolis where the illness was first recognized.
Though the scientific consensus is that the coronavirus evolved naturally, such claims have gained traction. U.S. President Trump stated on April 15 that his government was investigating whether it had emerged in the Wuhan lab.
Yuan Zhiming, professor at WIV and the director of its National Biosafety Laboratory, stated malicious claims in regards to the lab had been pulled out of thin air and contradicted all available proof.
Some conspiracy theories had been fuelled by a widely read scientific paper from the Indian Institute of Technology, since withdrawn, claiming that proteins in the coronavirus shared an uncanny similarity with those of HIV. Nevertheless, most scientists now say SARS-CoV-2 emerged in wildlife, with bats and pangolins identified as possible host species.
All seven known human coronaviruses have origins in bats, mice, or domestic animals, scientists say.
Yuan further rejected theories that the lab had accidentally released a coronavirus it had harvested from bats for research functions, saying the lab’s biosecurity procedures had been strictly enforced.