No evidence to back Trump claims Covid-19 originated from Wuhan lab, says expert

There is no evidence to support a conspiracy theory, backed by Donald Trump, which suggests coronavirus was created in a Chinese laboratory, an expert has said.

The US president claims to have seen proof that Covid-19 originated from an infectious disease laboratory in Wuhan.

At the start of May he speculated that China could have unleashed the virus on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake”, and even put forward the idea the release was intentional.

However, Professor David Robertson told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee there was no evidence to back the theory.

He said: “It (the theory) seems unlikely given the emergence of an animal market.

“You have a virus that you think comes from an exotic species and then you have a wildlife market – that seems the most parsimonious explanation.”

Asked whether a Covid-19 sample found in a Wuhan lab, thought to be about 40 to 50 years old, could have been behind the initial outbreak, the head of viral genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow added: “No, absolutely not.

“That’s partly what has driven some of these conspiracy theories, is what is the chance they would have this virus in the labs that is close? And actually, even though it is close in sequence, it is not close in time.”

Prof Robertson added: “There is really no evidence for this. We can all enjoy a conspiracy theory but you need to have evidence.”

The committee also heard that Covid-19 is unpredictably different from what had been discovered.

He said: “I don’t think we’re clever enough to have designed this virus – it’s far too unique.”

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