Home COVID-19 The Wuhan lab leak theory | News

The Wuhan lab leak theory | News


When Covid-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, much of the focus of the initial investigation fell on a seafood market that also sold exotic animals for human consumption. But in the months since, no definitive link has been proven and the precise origin story remains unsolved.

In the intervening period numerous conspiracy theories have spread: that somehow 5G phone signals could be involved, or that the virus is a hoax. Bracketed in with these was a theory that Covid-19 may have been released (accidentally or otherwise) from a lab.

Initially scientists poured scorn on the lab leak theory but in recent months suspicion has fallen on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies coronaviruses. As the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont tells Anushka Asthana, these suspicions are still being treated with scepticism by scientists. But now, in the absence of any other confirmed origin, Joe Biden has asked US intelligence agencies to consider the lab leak theory as a possibility and to investigate. So how seriously should we take it?

WHO staff arriving at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in February

Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

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