British intelligence operatives reportedly now believe it is “feasible” the Covid pandemic began with a leak from a research laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Agents are investigating a possible leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reports claim.
Previously, British, American and other western intelligence agencies have appeared to discount the possibility of a lab leak.
But now, sources claim there has been a reassessment and deemed the possibility as “feasible”.
The Times says the development, which Beijing has angrily denied, has prompted US diplomatic sources to share their concerns “we are one wet market or bio lab away from the next spillover”.
MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, told The Times: “The silence coming from Wuhan is troubling.
“We need to open the crypt and see what happened to be able to protect ourselves in the future.
“That means starting an investigation, along with partners around the world and in the WHO.”
Asked about the speculation that the virus could have escaped from a Wuhan lab, Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News: “I think it’s really important that the WHO is allowed to conduct its investigation unencumbered into the origins of this pandemic and we should leave no stone unturned to understand why.”
It was claimed that three researchers from the Wuhan lab that investigated Covid-19 fell ill just weeks before the virus emerged as a mystery illness.
The workers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were sick enough that they had to go to a hospital for treatment in November 2019, according to a previously undisclosed US intelligence report.
The report, which was revealed by the Wall Street Journal, has fuelled calls for a broader investigation into the theory that the initial outbreak was caused by a leak at the laboratory.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has denied that a leak was to blame, though a group of leading scientists has said the virus’ origin is still unclear and the theory needs to be taken seriously until a rigorous data-led investigation proves it wrong.
Covid-19 emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and rapidly spread around the world, infecting more than 167 million people and killing almost 3.5 million so far.