London: The UK has urged the WHO to conduct a deep investigation into the origin of the COVID outbreak after its intelligence agencies have hinted at a possible leak from a lab in China's Wuhan.
The theory by the intelligence agencies has now prompted UK's Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi to demand that the WHO must fully investigate the origins of the deadly virus, NDTV reports.
Zahawi said it's vital that the WHO is "allowed to conduct its investigation unencumbered" as it seeks to better understand how the initial outbreak began. "We should leave no stone unturned," he added.
The British spies are now investigating the theory of a possible leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to the report.
However, China has issued repeated denials that it is the source of the virus.
Scientists who supported the lab theory have been repeatedly shouted down by colleagues and scientific journals who claim the virus jumped from animals to humans.
According to a Sunday Times report, western intelligence, including in Britain, at first considered there was only a "remote" chance that the virus had leaked from the laboratory, where research is conducted into bat-derived coronaviruses, including one closely associated with COVID-19. However, the newspaper cited courses and reported that further reassessment into the theory is proving that the lab escape is thought as "feasible".
"There might be pockets of evidence that take us one way, and evidence that takes us another way. The Chinese will lie either way. I don't think we will ever know," said a western intelligence source familiar with UK involvement in the investigation.
Last week, US President Joe Biden had ordered the US intelligence agencies to boost their efforts in investigating the emergence of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days.
His announcement came after a US intelligence report found several researchers at the WIV fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalised -- a new detail that fuelled fresh public pressure on Biden to order a detailed investigation into the origin of the deadly virus.
The origins of the COVID-19 has been a widely debated topic, with some scientists and politicians maintaining that the possibility of a lab leak of the deadly virus exists but was largely dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is near the outbreak's known epicentre of Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late 2019 and became a pandemic. More than 168 million confirmed cases have since been confirmed worldwide and at least 3.5 million deaths reported.