Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in December 2019, the theory regarding its origin has been a matter of great speculation in International news. Early on, it was believed that the virus originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China. Since then, many independent and government investigations have presented many theories regarding the origin of this virus. The latest of which is the reappearance of the lab leak hypothesis.
The lab leak hypothesis states that the COVID-19 virus is a lab-created virus that leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been studying bat-related coronaviruses for more than a decade. This puts the blame directly on the Chinese government and, if proven true, can have dire consequences for China in the international forum.
The hypothesis first came to light during the Trump administration of the USA. At that time, the Wall Street Journal reported that three of the virologists working at the Institute of Virology fell sick and were hospitalised during the cold and flu season. This story was further popularised when a US government official defined this incident as "something fishy" in a press interview.
The chief medical advisor of the US government, Dr Anthony Fauci, dismissed this hypothesis last year in an interview with National Geographic. But on May 11 2021, he changed his previous statement and acknowledged that he is now "not convinced" about the natural development of the COVID-19 virus.
In late January 2021, the WHO ordered an international investigation on the Wuhan Institute of Virology for finding the source and origin of the COVID-19 virus. The report was presented in March, which did not dismiss nor confirm the lab leak hypothesis. The report stated that all the hypothesis regarding the origin of the COVID-19 virus still "remain on the table". It also addressed that the investigation did not find a definitive source of the virus. They stated that they would find the source and collectively work to reduce its risk of repeating itself.
On May 11, Dr Fauci told PolitiFacts that the virus's origin is most probably from animal to human transmission. However, the lab leak hypothesis does not seem unlikely at that time. Recently the president of the USA also weighed in on the issue and called for investigating teams to "redouble" their efforts into finding the root of the COVID-19 virus. The US Senate also passed a bill calling for declassification of the files related to the origin of the COVID-19 virus.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, did not take the US president's orders lightly and backfired with allegations regarding the secrets in the 200+ US bio-labs worldwide. Lijian also alleged that the COVID-19 virus originated from a US Army base in Maryland. This heated exchange, allegation and cross-allegation have stirred up the already tense US and China relations again.