Former British spy agency MI6 head Richard Dearlove has claimed that the theory of novel Coronavirus emanating from Wuhan lab must not be dismissed as conspiracy as scientists have raised new questions over the outbreak of Covid-19.

Dearlove, who served as the MI6 chief from 1999 to 2004, departed from the prevailing belief that the Coronavirus pandemic was not man-made and reaffirmed his view that the virus accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan where the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded.

Richard Dearlove
Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove Wikimedia commons

His comments came after a team of scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) prepares to visit China this week to investigate the origin of the novel Coronavirus which is still dominating the conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic.

The Spy Chief with a New Point of View

Dearlove told Sky News, "I subscribe to the theory... that it's an engineered escapee from the Wuhan Institute [of Virology]." He explained that he is not saying anything other than that "it was the result of an accident" and that the SARS-CoV-2 is the consequence of Gain-of-Function (GoF) experiments conducted in Wuhan, "which I don't think are particularly sinister."

He urged the officials to investigate the Wuhan lab leak theory and said that there is an "accumulation of evidence" that needs an open discussion among the scientific community. Dearlove said that if there is an investigation in the U.K. about the Coronavirus pandemic and government policy "which I'm sure will happen," it should start with science to find out where this virus actually came from.

Investigating Coronavirus

Dearlove's remark comes in the wake of a report that China failed to share information relating to an earlier version of the Coronavirus. The report revealed that the closest known match to the SARS-CoV-2 strain was found seven years ago by Chinese scientists, including China's "bat woman" Shi Zhengli, in an abandoned copper mine near Tongguan in the Mojiang region and was linked to deaths caused by a Coronavirus-type respiratory illness.

The strain of Coronavirus was subsequently stored at the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which is alleged to have been "carrying out high-risk experiments to increase the infectivity of Coronaviruses in an attempt to understand the mechanisms that might cause a pandemic".

The U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been the top critic of China and blamed Beijing for the pandemic, claimed in April he had seen evidence that it had come from a Chinese laboratory, even though he did not provide further details.

Wuhan Institute of Virology, China
Wuhan Institute of Virology, China Twitter

Denying such allegations, Yuan Zhiming, a vice-director at WIV said, "Why are these rumors? Because of the Institute of Virology ... [is] in Wuhan people can't help but make associations, which I think is understandable. But it is bad when some are deliberately trying to mislead people. This is entirely based on speculation."

Theories Around Coronavirus

As of now, many scientists believe that the virus causing COVID-19 most likely occurred naturally. It probably passed from an animal -- the prime suspect being a specific species of bat -- to humans, possibly through an intermediary species.

As per another theory, the novel Coronavirus had originated from a large-scale wet market in Wuhan, which sells wild animals such as bats and pangolins that are now known to carry the hosts of such virus. According to initial reports, the bulk of original 41 COVID-19 cases in Wuhan were linked to the 116-acre Wuhan market, which led to its closure on January 1.

But the Chinese Centre of Disease Control and Prevention is now investigating the theory that the Wuhan market was a "victim" of Coronavirus, not a source. Recently, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus said the science body will now be revisiting theories surrounding the source of the novel Coronavirus. He added that "We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started."