Former chief of the UK's secret spy service MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, has said that the Chinese engineered the coronavirus in their lab but its release was not intentional. He suggested that scientists may have been experimenting on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 escaped accidentally.
The virus, which originated in Wuhan in China in December last year, has surpassed 6.6 million infections worldwide with over 390,000 deaths. Conspiracy theorists widely believe that the virus was developed in a lab in Wuhan, but Chinese authorities have vehemently denied the allegations.
Coronavirus Started as an Accident â Former MI6 Chief
Dearlove, who headed the MI6 from 1999 until 2004, said he believes Covid-19 to be man-made. He based his claims on a study published by Professor Angus Dalgleish of St George's Hospital, University of London and Norwegian virologist Birger Sorensen, which alleges the virus was developed in a laboratory in China.
In their report, the researchers claimed to have found "inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface" that allow the virus to come into contact with human cells
Dearlove made the startling claims during The Telegraph's Planet Normal podcast. Stating that the findings in the report would lead to China paying "reparations" to the rest of the world due to the havoc caused by the virus, Dearlove said: "I do think that this started as an accident. It raises the issue, if China ever were to admit responsibility, does it pay reparations? I think it will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership."
Dearlove suggested that the scientists at a laboratory in Wuhan could have secretly been carrying out experiments on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 somehow accidentally escaped through a lapse in biosecurity.
Stating that the paper had been rewritten several times, and an earlier version apparently claimed the coronavirus could accurately be called the Wuhan virus, the former spy chief stated: "As this debate about the virus develops, I think all this material is going to be in print and is going to embarrass a number of people."
Controversial Study Claims Virus Is Engineered
The outlet, citing an earlier draft of the study, reported that the research paper, which was toned down from its original draft, was rejected by researchers from the Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College London. Leading academic journals such as Nature and the Journal of Virology also found the study unsuitable for publication, the outlet reported.
An initial version of the study accessed by the outlet claimed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Covid-19 virus was engineered. The report further revealed that one of the study's authors had withdrawn his name before the paper was "watered down" to remove any explicit allegations against Beijing.
According to the Daily Mail, the researcher claimed that efforts to find a vaccine for the fatal virus would prove unsuccessful as scientists have so far misunderstood the true properties of Covid-19. "(The study is) a very important contribution to a debate which is now starting about how the virus evolved and how it got out and broke out as a pandemic," said Dearlove.
An initial investigation conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the virus was passed on to humans from bats from a Wuhan wet market infamous for slaughtered wild animals.