Conspiracy theories continue to swirl around the birth of the COVID-19 virus, and the former chief of the United Kingdom’s much vaunted MI6 intelligence service says he believes the coronavirus pandemic may have “started as an accident,” with the virus escaping from a Wuhan laboratory, said David Makichuk of the Asia Times on June 5, 2020.

UK’s The Independent also reported on the issue, which continues to rankle China and much of the scientific world, including US, British, French and German scientists. It said Sir Richard Dearlove cited an “important” new study by British and Norwegian researchers which he thinks could “shift the debate.” The researchers claim to have discovered clues suggesting key elements were “inserted” into the virus’s genetic sequence and may not have evolved naturally — a prospect contested by almost every other scientist studying the virus’s makeup, The Independent reported. Dearlove, who was head of MI6 until 2004, suggested that scientists may have been carrying out gene-splicing experiments — although “absolutely” rejected conspiracy theories that this may have been for malevolent purposes, The Independent reported.

The study had been rejected by various journals and rewritten several times to remove accusatory claims about China before it was published in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, according to The Telegraph. Initial co-author John Fredrik Moxnes, a chief scientific adviser to the Norwegian military, reportedly asked for his name to be removed.

The researchers are still seeking a publisher for a new paper, which says COVID-19 is a “remarkably well-adapted virus for human co-existence,” and claims it is likely to be the result of a laboratory experiment to produce “chimeric viruses of high potency,” The Telegraph reported.

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