A Wuhan laboratory is the "most likely" source of the coronavirus outbreak that is rampantly spreading across the globe, according to a US government analysis that examines the evidence and concludes that other explanations behind the origin of the deadly virus are less credible.

US government document traces coronavirus outbreak to Wuhan lab

The findings, compiled from open sources and still an unfinished project, points out that although there is no smoking gun to place the blame of the global COVID-19 pandemic on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case," the paper says, as pointed out by The Washington Times.

"All other possible places of the virus' origin have been proven to be highly unlikely," the document concludes. Chinese authorities continue to maintain that the origin of the virus is unknown but had initially stated that it originated from a "wet market" in Wuhan where exotic animals were being slaughtered and sold for their meat.

Coronavirus
Caption: WUHAN, Feb. 13, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Staff members work in a laboratory in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 13, 2020. Xinhua/IANS

They claimed the virus may have been transmitted by bats to animals sold at the market before infecting the human population. US officials have grown increasingly sceptical of that version of the story. President Donald Trump confirmed earlier this month that "a lot of people," including U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating the deadly pathogen's origin and whether the virus escaped from the Wuhan labs, as previously reported.

Chinese lab head rejects claims

The head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has rejected claims that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a laboratory, adding that there were no conclusive answers to where the disease originated from.

Yuan Zhiming, professor at WIV and the director of its National Biosafety Laboratory, said "malicious" claims about the lab had been "pulled out of thin air" and contradicted all available scientific evidence.

SARS-CoV-2
SARS-CoV-2 Wikimedia Commons

"The WIV does not have the intention and the ability to design and construct a new coronavirus," he was quoted as saying by Reuters. "Moreover, there is no information within the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicating it was manmade."

Yuan also dismissed the theory that the lab had accidentally released a coronavirus it had harvested from bats for research purposes, saying the lab's biosecurity procedures were strictly enforced. "High-level biosafety labs have sophisticated protective facilities and strict measures to ensure the safety of laboratory staff and protect the environment from contamination," he said.

Professor suggests outbreak may have originated from US

Although Yuan did not directly comment on the claims, he said there were "still no answers" about the virus's origins and cited a paper published by British and German scientists earlier this month suggesting that the SARS-CoV-2 variant circulating in the United States was a more "primitive" strand of the deadly pathogen than the one found in China, and might have appeared there first.

"Tracing the virus's origin is a very challenging scientific question with strong uncertainty," Yuan added. "I hope everyone will put aside their prejudices and biases in order to provide a rational environment for research on tracing the origin of the virus."