Nobel winning French professor Luc Montagnier, who co-discovered HIV, claimed that the novel Coronavirus was created inside a lab and mentioned that the deadly virus, which has infected over 2.5 million people in the world, originated during the attempt to manufacture a vaccine for AIDS virus and was accidentally released.

But on Friday, France said that there was no evidence of a link between the SARS-CoV-2 and the work of the P4 research laboratory in China's Wuhan, rejecting the claim made by the Nobel winner, who made the recent comments during a podcast by Pourquoi Docteur and also in a TV interview.

Wuhan lab Coronavirus research

As reported, in an interview with French CNews, Montagnier said that the new Coronavirus is the result of an attempt to develop a vaccine against the AIDS virus because there were some elements of HIV present in the genome of the new virus. The French scientist's claim that the virus originated in Wuhan lab echoed a similar charge by the US in recent days. US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that his government was trying to determine whether the Coronavirus emanated from the Wuhan lab or not.

French scientist Luc Montagnier
French scientist Luc Montagnier Wikimedia commons

Later, an official at France President Emmanuel Macron's office said:

We would like to make it clear that there is to this day no factual evidence corroborating the information recently circulating in the United States press that establishes a link between the origins of COVID-19 and the work of the P4 laboratory of Wuhan, China.

France and China relation

It should be mentioned that in 2004 France, which has recorded over 150,000 infection cases and more than 19,000 COVID-19 deaths till now, had signed an agreement with China to establish a research laboratory on infectious diseases of biosafety level 4, which is the highest level, in China's Wuhan city, as per a French decree signed by then-foreign minister Michel Barnier.

Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron raised questions over China's handling of the Coronavirus outbreak and said that things happened in the country which "We don't know about." But, none of the officials openly supported the controversial comments about virus origin in Wuhan lab.

Coronavirus
Staff members work in a laboratory in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 13, 2020. Xinhua/IANS

The controversy around Wuhan lab

A top medical expert in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, said in a White House press conference on Friday that current evidence about the origin of the deadly virus is "totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human."

Earlier, an official at the World Health Organization (WHO) denied that the virus was produced in a laboratory or as a biological weapon. Richard Brennan, regional emergency director for WHO's Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, said in February during a press briefing in Egypt that "It's (novel coronavirus) a class of viruses that are primarily what we call zoonotic, that they come from the animal kingdom."

The recent comments made Montagnier triggered criticism from other scientists. As per AFP, a virologist from Institut Pasteur in Paris, Etienne Simon-Loriere, said that the claims about the origin of the virus didn't make sense as there were very small elements found in other Coronaviruses too. "If we take a word from a book and it looks like another word, can we say that one has copied from the other?" the virologist asked.