Ex-MI6 boss says Covid-19 'accidentally' escaped from Chinese lab

4 June 2020, 06:29

The former intelligence service boss cited a scietific paper
The former intelligence service boss cited a scietific paper. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A former chief of MI6 has said he believes the Covid-19 pandemic started accidentally after the virus escaped from a laboratory in China.

Ex-Secret Intelligence Service boss Sir Richard Dearlove, was speaking to the Daily Telegraph Planet Normal podcast when he revealed his theory.

Citing a scientific paper which appeared earlier this week by a Norwegian-British research team which suggested key elements in the genetic sequence of coronavirus were "inserted" and may not have evolved naturally.

The 38-year intelligence service veteran suggested scientists may have been experimenting on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 escaped.

Read more: Boris Johnson braces nation for 'many job losses' as impact of pandemic emerge

Sir Richard said: "I do think that this started as an accident," but he said it would raise the issue "if China ever were to admit responsibility, does it pay reparations? I think it will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership."

However, experts widely agree that the virus originated in animals before being transmitted to humans.

As we reported previously, Professor David Robertson from the University of Glasgow told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee last month that there was "really no evidence" of the virus being man-made.

"I don't think we're clever enough to have designed this virus - it's far too unique," he said.

"There is really no evidence for this. We can all enjoy a conspiracy theory but you need to have evidence."

Read more: Almost 30,000 Brits had to be retested after tests sent to US 'voided'

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Read more: 'No evidence' for Wuhan lab coronavirus conspiracy theory, Lords hear

Sir Richard, who was the head of MI6 between 1999 and 2004, cited startling new peer-reviewed research produced by Professor Angus Dalgleish, of St George's Hospital at the University of London, and the Norwegian virologist Birger Sorensen.

In the study the scientists claim to have found "inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface" which could explain how the virus binds with human cells.

In the podcast, Sir Richard suggested scientists may have been experimenting on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 escaped.

The Daily Telegraph reported the peer-reviewed paper has been re-written several times as some scientists dismissed its original conclusions.

An earlier version of the study, seen by the paper, claimed to prove "beyond reasonable doubt that the Covid-19 virus is engineered".

Further analysis of the research, due to be released in the coming days, reportedly claims the Covid-19 virus has "unique fingerprints" that indicate "purposive manipulation" by humans.

"As this debate about the virus develops, I think all this material is going to be in print and is going to embarrass a number of people," Sir Richard said.

The paper also reportedly warned that current vaccine efforts are doomed because the cause of the virus has been misunderstood.

The researchers are attempting to solve this issue by developing their own vaccine, according to the paper.