Covid may have escaped from Wuhan lab as WHO says it 'can't rule anything out'

A WORLD Health Organisation chief has refused to rule out claims Covid escaped from a Wuhan lab – as officials visit the Chinese city to trace the origins of the virus.

Dr David Nabarro, special envoy for the WHO's Covid response, admitted "all options are on the table" as part of the probe.

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He told Sophy Ridge on Sky that Chinese authorities are giving "exemplary cooperation" into the investigation.

However, he refused to rule out any theories about how the deadly bug broke out and began to spread.

The expert said: "All the sites that WHO people wanted to visit are being visited.

"There is an openness for all kinds of communication to take place.

"But it's early days, this is detective work.

"We're anticipating this will take quite a lot longer."

Asked about rumours the virus leaked from the secretive Wuhan Institute of Virology, he said: "The thing about theories is you have to have them as a way to set up the reason why things might be occurring in a particular way.

"I can't rule anything out.

"I know the team on the spot, as well as those they're talking to in China, they're not ruling anything out either.

"All options are on the table and everything will be looked at."

China has long denied that the virus – which most scientists agree occurred naturally – may have escaped from its highest security lab.

But this month, top MPs demanded that China comes clean – after US officials say the "most credible" origin of coronavirus is a lab leak.

Senior Tory MPs Tom Tugendhat and Tobias Ellwood have called on the Government to probe allegations made by Donald Trump's security advisor Matthew Pottinger.

The US are claimed to have a whistleblower former scientist from the Wuhan Institute who is working with their intelligence services.

Questions have loomed over the Institute since the start of the pandemic, and scientists there have repeatedly denied any allegations of a leak.

The lab was being used to create hybrid coronaviruses for research purposes, but there is no suggestion Covid-19 is manmade.

What do we know about the Wuhan Institure of Virology?

THE WUHAN Institute of Virology is the highest security level of its kind in all of China – and can be found right at the heart of the origins of the global pandemic.

Various theories have been swirling about the lab, which is headed up by Chinese scientist Dr Shi Zhengli, known as “Bat Woman”.

Most scientists do not believe the virus leaked from the lab, and the lab itself has categorically denied the claims.

The lab specialised in bat-borne viruses and had been carrying out experiences on them since 2015.

Airlocks, full body suits, and chemical showers are required before entering and leaving the lab – the first in China to be accredited with biosafety level 4 (BSL-4).

BSL-4 labs are the only places in the world where scientists can study diseases that have no cure.

Scientists from the lab even tested mysterious virus which killed three miners 1,000 miles away in Yunnan province back in 2012.

It has been suggested this fatal mystery bug may have been the true origin of Covid-19.

Experts at the lab also engineered a new type of hybrid 'super-virus' that can infect humans in 2015, according to medical journal Nature Medicine

Despite fears surrounding the research, the study was designed to show the risk of viruses carried by bats which could be transmitted to humans.

There is no suggestion the facility's 2015 work is linked to the pandemic.

The lab was also recruiting new scientists to probe coronaviruses in bats just seven days before the outbreak.

China has began tightening security around its biolabs with President Xi Jinping saying it was a “national security” issue to improve scientific safety at a meeting last February.

Mr Tugendhat told The Sun Online: "How China has dealt with the pandemic internationally is extremely concerning and they have been very slow at sharing information – whether about the outbreak or its origins.

"They locked up those who were whistleblowing, and now it seems there is a danger they covered up a leak."

And Mr Ellwood said: "Until there is a thorough, transparent, internationally investigation into the pandemic’s origins, the world will never know for sure how this outbreak started, where was ground zero and who was patient zero."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying went on the attack when quizzed about the claims from Pottinger.

She called on WHO to "investigate the virus in the US" and linked it to a previous flu outbreak.

Hua then cited US disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci and said "almost all the scientists and experts in the world" deny claims the virus came from the Wuhan lab.

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