DNA Explainer: What is ‘Wuhan Lab Leak Theory’, Fiction or Fact? – DNA India


These claims, though suggest the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, the WHO, independent investigation agencies, and China are yet to comment on it.

Security keeps a watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the WHO team investigating the origins of the coronavirus (Image Source: Reuters)

Written By

Edited By

Shampa Sen


DNA Web Desk

Updated: Jun 5, 2021, 04:18 PM IST

The world is taken over with a new theory of the COVID-19 origin. The ‘Wuhan lab leak’ theory suggests that the novel coronavirus actually originated from a bat cave and then the leak happened via a lab. 

Independent researchers, after digging the internet have come up with this theory, and though China or World Health Organisation (WHO) are yet to comment on it, the whole world is already reading it as a fiction novel.

We at DNA are taking a summarised version of this theory and what it suggests.

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About DRASTIC group

The DRASTIC group was formed on Twitter in 2020 and has set itself the mission of exploring the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

The group comprises 24 self-styled ‘Twitter detectives’ who are mostly anonymous with the exception of a few scientists participating under their real names.

Information and arguments from the group have been examined in their own right, taken up and developed by some virologists, microbiologists, and science communicators.

In July 2020, one of the authors of this article, Etienne Decroly, co-wrote a scientific paper discussing the possibility of a laboratory accident.

The lab leak theory gained wider traction after a May 13 article in the journal Science, signed by 18 scientists, called again for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 to be examined.

The DRASTIC theory

This theory is based on digging through obscure documents and Chinese academic papers.

The theory goes back to 2012 when six miners were sent to a bat-infested mineshaft in Mojiang in Yunnan to clean it.

Later, three of the miners died of pneumonia-like symptoms.

In 2013, Dr Shi Zhengli, Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), and her team brought back samples from the mineshaft to their Wuhan lab

 Dr Shi Zhengli said that it was a fungus in the cave that killed the miners.

DRASTIC claims she found an unidentified coronavirus strain which they called RaBtCoV/4991.

In WIV papers between 2015 and 2017 ‘gain-of-function’ work is described, according to a report by The Sunday Times.

These are controversial experiments that make viruses more contagious to test them.

This theory speculates that a lab error may have caused the COVID-19 outbreak. 

These claims, though suggest the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, the World Health Organisation (WHO), independent investigation agencies, and China are yet to comment on it.