An Israeli biological warfare expert claims a deadly coronovirus spreading globally may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory linked to China’s secret biological weapons program, the Washington Times reported.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is the only declared site in China capable of working with the virus, the news outlet's national security correspondent Bill Gertz wrote.
Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer, charged the lab is also linked to Beijing’s covert biological weapons program.
“Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese BW alignment,” he told Gertz.
China has denied having any offensive biological weapons; the U.S. State Department said last year it suspects such undercover work, Gertz reported.
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state-controlled media initial signs indicated the virus originated from wild animals sold at a seafood market in Wuhan, Gertz noted.
The World Health Organization is calling the microbe coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
The Wuhan facility has studied coronaviruses in the past, including the strain that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, the H5N1 influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue, Gertz reported.
“In principle, outward virus infiltration might take place either as leakage or as an indoor unnoticed infection of a person that normally went out of the concerned facility,” Shoham told Gertz. “This could have been the case with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but so far there isn’t evidence or indication for such incident.”
The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, according to Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., Nature has reported.
But, “at this point there's no reason to harbor suspicions” the facility had anything to do with the outbreak, besides being responsible for the crucial genome sequencing that lets doctors diagnose it, Ebright told DailyMail.com.
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