KEY POINTS

  • Sir Richard Dearlove, an ex-MI6 boss, believes that the coronavirus came from a Wuhan laboratory
  • He said there's a peer-reviewed paper supporting evidence it was man-made and engineered
  • Dearlove said the virus was not intentionally released but he also warned that the Chinese should not be underestimated

The former head of MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, believes the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from a Wuhan laboratory and broke from confinement by accident.

Sir Richard Dearlove, who was the chief of the MI6 from 1999 to 2004, was featured in The Telegraph's Planet Normal podcast and said that he found evidence that the virus responsible for COVID-19, which has killed close to 400,000 individuals all over the world to date, is man-made and derived from bats.

“I do think that this started as an accident,” Dearlove said, citing a peer-reviewed study by virologist Birger Sorensen of Norway and Professor Angus Dalgleish of the University of London, that underscored his belief that the virus was “engineered” to bind to human cells.

Dearlove says the authors originally wrote, “We are aware that these findings could have political significance and raise troubling questions,” but omitted the statement prior to publication in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery.

He says that Sorensen and Dalgleish had to remove all references to the “Wuhan virus.” President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have made references like this in the past and claimed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from a laboratory in China, which they were criticized for.

"It’s not racist at all," Trump said in defense of his use of the "Wuhan virus" or the "Chinese virus." “Because it comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accurate," the president said.

Convinced that the original paper about the “Wuhan virus” had been accurate, Dearlove, the ex-MI6 chief, suggested that Chinese scientists may have been doing gene-splicing experiments on corona viruses found in bats when the virus escaped the laboratory.

Before the pandemic, virologist Dr. Shi Zhengli, dubbed the “batwoman scientist,” studied corona viruses found in bats for decades. Chinese social media blamed her as the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in February. Many believed that her work caused the lab accident that led to the outbreak and rejected the theory of the virus jumping from bats to humans who fed on bat soup. 

"I swear with my life, [the virus] has nothing to do with the lab," Shi said.

Dearlove doesn’t think the Wuhan lab accident, if true, was intentional. However, he sees this as a warning for the rest of the world to never trust the Chinese. He thinks perhaps the world should reconsider putting “… critical infrastructure in the hands of Chinese interests.”

Dearlove is referring to China’s dominance in telecommunications, manufacturing and even the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), which has been in demand in this coronavirus crisis.

Dearlove says that the Chinese understand the western world “extremely well,” and that they have spent the last decade or so getting to know us through “attending our universities.” He also says that, “We understand the Chinese poorly. It’s an imbalanced relationship in that respect.”