The Sunday Telegraph

G7 leaders consider theory of Wuhan laboratory leak

- By Lucy Fisher DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR in Cornwall

THE theory that Covid-19 originated from a Wuhan laboratory leak was discussed by G7 world leaders yesterday, in a sign that the hypothesis is increasing­ly being taken seriously.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s, director-general of the World Health Organisati­on (WHO), confirmed that the theory was raised during a formal session at the G7 summit in Cornwall dedicated to health matters.

He told reporters at a briefing last night that identifyin­g the source of the pandemic was a core part of showing respect to the millions of people around the globe who have died from the virus.

“The first phase of the origin study was not conclusive so there are four hypotheses, but [it’s] not conclusive yet. So we believe that all four hypotheses should be open, and we need to proceed with the second phase, to really know the origins,” he said.

He continued: “As you know, more than 174 million people have been confirmed for Covid illness. This is actually an underestim­ate, it could be more. And so far, close to 3.75 million people have died. This is very tragic, and I think the respect these people deserve is knowing what the origin of this virus is so that we can prevent it from happening again.”

Stressing that the WHO “will need co-operation from the Chinese side”, he highlighte­d “difficulti­es” in “data-sharing”, especially the exchange of raw data, during the first phase of the pandemic origin study. He called for better co-operation and transparen­cy in the second phase of the investigat­ion.

Asked whether the Wuhan laboratory leak theory was discussed by leaders during the health session yesterday, he said: “Yes, it was raised, and we discussed about the origins.”

The hypothesis centres on the idea that the virus could have escaped from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where cases were first discovered. Some scientists believe that it could have accidental­ly passed to humans at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where studies of coronavi

‘This is very tragic. I think the respect these people deserve is knowing what the origin of this virus is’

ruses were taking place. A more niche version of the hypothesis is that it was engineered.

China’s chief diplomat Yang Jiechi last week said he was “gravely concerned” by the lab leak theory, which he dismissed as an “absurd story”.

Beijing “firmly opposes any despicable acts that use the epidemic as an excuse to slander China and to shift blames,” Mr Yang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The US administra­tion has accused China of withholdin­g raw data and access to sites that would aid deeper investigat­ion into how the virus came into being, and how it first spread.

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