There is “no evidence” supporting conspiracy theories that the coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, an expert has told parliament.
Claims that COVID-19 was created in a lab were amplified by Donald Trump earlier this month, although the president refused to offer any evidence or give specific details.
The coronavirus outbreak first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year and international blame around the pandemic has incited conspiracy theories about its origin.
Rumours linking the virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – based on geographic proximity, and without any endorsement from qualified epidemiologists – have circulated.
But speaking to the House of Lords science and technology committee on Tuesday, Professor David Robertson dismissed the conspiracy theory as “unlikely”.
Following the president’s comments, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was a “significant amount of evidence” supporting the theory but, just two days later, admitted: “We don’t have certainty.”
Scientists have discovered that the coronavirus was 96% identical to coronavirus found in bats, one of the many animals sold at a Wuhan seafood market where it is suspected the virus jumped to humans.
British authorities believe it is highly likely the global pandemic is unconnected to the laboratory in Wuhan and was passed from animals to humans naturally.