The Coronavirus ‘Lab Leak Hypothesis’ Gets a Second Look

The Coronavirus ‘Lab Leak Hypothesis’ Gets a Second Look
Security personnel gather near the entrance of the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, Feb. 3, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

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Once dismissed by mainstream media as a conspiracy theory, the so-called lab leak hypothesis of the coronavirus’s origins is now making a comeback. The suggestion that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might have escaped from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan—whether intentionally or accidentally—has gained momentum in recent weeks. The controversial hypothesis remains unproven, but it cannot be ruled out based on the existing evidence. As a result, there are growing calls for a thorough investigation, including from leading epidemiologists, the World Health Organization and, most recently, the Biden administration.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement last week announcing a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident. Biden further cited an Intelligence Community finding stating that the majority of its 18 elements “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one [of these scenarios] to be more likely than the other.” He has now directed the agencies to collect and analyze new and existing information for a more definitive conclusion within 90 days.

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