Researchers and journalists have been speculating for months about how the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in the city of Wuhan, China. Initial indications pointed to a so-called wet market where fish was sold along with wild animals.

Now, however, Western media outlets are reporting that the virus possibly originated in the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Read more: From bats to pangolins, how do viruses reach us?

Similar theories began making the rounds on social media sites as early as January, mostly in connection to conspiracy theories referencing secret Chinese military labs developing bioweapons. At the time, The Washington Post newspaper brushed off theories that the virus was manmade, citing experts who assessed that its characteristics pointed to a naturally occurring virus and not a manmade mutation.

That assessment was confirmed by a team of researchers led by Kristian G. Andersen, who published a finding stating as much in the March 17 edition of the journal Nature Medicine

Another factor that would seem to corroborate that assessment is the fact that the lab’s work is not secret, and that much of its research on various bat viruses has been published in professional journals. Western partners have also been involved in a number of research projects conducted in Wuhan. One of those partners was the University of Texas’ Galveston National Laboratory. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has reported that the US government also provided financial support for research at the lab in Wuhan.


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