In Brief

MI5 says coronavirus Chinese laboratory theory is ‘fake news’

Security Service dismiss suggestion by ex-MI6 boss that virus is man-made

MI5 bosses have dismissed claims that the new coronavirus was made in a Chinese lab as “rumour and conspiracy”, according to intelligence sources.

The Security Service believes ongoing reports that Covid-19 was created deliberately are “fake news” and are comparable to “claims made by the anti-vaccination movement”, says The Times

The rebuttal comes after Richard Dearlove, former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), told The Telegraph that he believed the global pandemic may have begun with the accidental release of the virus from a Chinese laboratory.

In an interview with the newspaper’s Planet Normal podcast, Dearlove said: “I do think this started as an accident. It raises the issue, if China ever were to admit responsibility, does it pay reparations? It will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and its leadership.”

But both current and former intelligence chiefs in the UK and US have dismissed the lab theory.

Andrew Parker, the ex-director of MI5, told a webinar with the Royal Society of Medicine that he was “not aware of any convincing evidence that it is anything other than what people think it is: from live [animal] markets”.

And intelligence sources say that new MI5 chief Ken McCallum shares his predecessor’s views, reports The Times.

Meanwhile, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a statement saying that US intelligence agencies agree “with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made”, reports the South China Morning Post.

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Much of the speculation that Covid-19 may have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in the Chinese city where the global outbreak began, can be traced back to “right-wing bloggers and conservative media pundits”, says USA Today.  

However, as the BBC points out, “there is no evidence of any kind the Sars-CoV-2 virus (which causes Covid-19) was released accidentally from a lab”.

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