A former MI6 chief has said he believes the origins of the coronavirus pandemic can be traced back to an accident at a Chinese laboratory.
Sir Richard Dearlove who spent 38 years with Britain’s intelligence service, said he had seen a new scientific report suggesting the virus was engineered by scientists in China. Experts widely agree the disease originated in animals before passing to humans.
Professor David Robertson from the University of Glasgow told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee last month that there was ‘really no evidence’ of Covid-19 being man-made. He added: ‘I don’t think we’re clever enough to have designed this virus – it’s far too unique. We can all enjoy a conspiracy theory but you need to have evidence.’
But Sir Richard said a scientific paper published this week by a Norwegian-British research team suggested key elements in the genetic sequence of the virus were ‘inserted’ and may not have evolved naturally.
The study was produced by Professor Angus Dalgleish of St George’s Hospital at the University of London and Norwegian virologist Birger Sorensen. It claims to have found ‘inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface’ which could explain how the virus binds with human cells.’
In the podcast, Sir Richard suggested scientists may have been experimenting on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 escaped. He also raised the prospect of China potentially paying for the global damage caused by the pandemic and said the study is a ‘very important contribution to a debate’ on how the virus spread across the world.
Sir Richard added: ‘I do think that this started as an accident. It raises the issue, if China ever were to admit responsibility, does it pay reparations?’
The Daily Telegraph reported the peer-reviewed paper has been re-written several times as some scientists dismissed its original conclusions.
An earlier version of the study claimed to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt that the Covid-19 virus is engineered’.
Further analysis of the research, due to be released in the coming days, reportedly claims the Covid-19 virus has ‘unique fingerprints’ that indicate ‘purposive manipulation’ by humans.
Sir Richard said: ‘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.’
The paper also reportedly warned that current vaccine efforts are doomed because the cause of the virus has been misunderstood.
The researchers are attempting to solve this issue by developing their own vaccine, according to the paper.