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Amateur sleuths claim to uncover evidence confirming lab leak theory of COVID-19 origin

Amateur sleuths claim to uncover evidence confirming lab leak theory of COVID-19 origin

Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan / AFP

New Delhi: As the probe for the origin of the lethal coronavirus intensifies globally, a group of amateur sleuths called 'DRASTIC' has come forward claiming to have revealed the dark secrets of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Newsweek reported on Wednesday.

DRASTIC which stands for "decentralised radical autonomous search team investigating Covid-19" has set itself the mission of exploring the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

According to a report by Newsweek, DRASTIC has revealed that WIV had an extensive collection of coronaviruses gathered over many years of foraging in the bat caves. As per DRASTIC's theory, among the gathered viruses included the closest-known relative to the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2 which is claimed to have came from a mineshaft where three men died from a suspected SARS-like disease in 2012.

The report says that WIV was actively working with these viruses, using inadequate safety protocols, in ways that could have triggered the pandemic and alleged that the lab and Chinese authorities have gone to great lengths to conceal these activities.

According to the report, the first cases appeared weeks before the outbreak at the Huanan wet market that was once thought to be ground zero.

Although none of these theory proves that the pandemic started in the Wuhan lab, the evidence assembled by DRASTIC amounts to what prosecutors call probable cause -- a strong, evidence-based case for a full investigation.

It is not clear that the best efforts of the US and other nations to investigate the lab-leak hypothesis will ever turn up unequivocal evidence one way or another, at least without the full cooperation of China, which is unlikely, the report said.

Meanwhile, the former head of the US Food and Drug Administration recently said that there is less evidence now to show that the novel coronavirus developed naturally -- jumping from an animal to humans, strengthening the argument for Covid-19 originating in a lab.

"The side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come out of a lab has continued to expand, and the side of the ledger that suggests this has come from of a zoonotic source, come out of nature, really hasn't budged, and if anything, you can argue that that side of the ledger has contracted," the New York Post quoted Scott Gottlieb as saying on CBS' "Face the Nation".

Last year, then US President Donald Trump had hit out at China for not stopping the Covid-19 pandemic and used the term "China virus" and urged his supporters not to call it coronavirus, saying the name sounds like a "beautiful place" in Italy.

However, the comment attracted a lot of criticism against Trump.

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TAGS:DRASTICWuhan institute of virologyCOVID 19 origin
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