Originally the line was that a new corona virus had sprung up from the NanHua Seafood market where wild animals were being slaughtered. Sounded plausible.
In Feburary 2020, Chinese scientists Botao Xiao, and Lei Xiao from the South China University of Technology “proposed the coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory.”
On Feb 22 at an NTU seminar held by the Taiwan Public Health Association Fang Chi-tai (方啟泰) explored the possibility that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
According to a report in the Taipei Times:
"A French research team that examined the gene sequence of COVID-19 has discovered that it has four more amino acids than other coronaviruses (which) makes its transmission easier.
Mutations of viruses that occur naturally only result in small, singular changes; one would not normally see a naturally mutated virus suddenly take on four amino acids. While such a large mutation is not impossible, it is highly unlikely, he said.
Only an internal administrative review at the institute could rule out whether the virus was manufactured there. Such an investigation would require access to lab records, which is unlikely to happen in the short term, he added.”
Fang Chi-tai's presentation directly challenged the China/WHO message management. It provoked some heavy-hitting attention. Scientists and media outlets lined up to ridicule Fang Chi-tai as a 'conspiracy theorist'.
Then on Mar 17 The Proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2 co-authored by 5 eminent professors was published in Nature Medicine.
It claimed “strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not the product of purposeful manipulation”. Instead it argues that “...pangolins with nearly identical RBDs provide a much stronger and more parsimonious explanation” of how the virus originated.
This paper generated world news at a time when people were looking for answers. The Guardian wrote:
“A study of its genetic sequence, conducted by infectious disease expert Kristian G Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute...and colleagues, rules out the possibility that it could have been manufactured in a lab or otherwise engineered. Puff go the conspiracy theories.”
The Brisbane Times headline: Scientists dispel theory COVID-19 escaped from lab
However, questions persisted. When you have an earth shattering event that alters the course of history, it’s normal some people will ask ‘What happened there?’
The answers to these origin questions are quite knowable - it’s not theoretical astro-physics - a thorough investigation will uncover it. No doubt the CCP already knows. But not telling.
That increases speculation. Which is also quite normal. From that, we are left with two main theories:
1. It originated from bats which passed it to pangolin which passed it to humans at the Huanan Seafood market where live bats and pangolin were being slaughtered for sale.
2. It accidentally escaped from one of two labs in Wuhan that were studying bat corona viruses.
The bottom line with these theories - and every other theory, is - we don’t know. We don’t know coz China’s not telling. Therefore everything is conjecture.
So that begs the question as to why five leading experts went to so much trouble to combat theory 2 by endorsing theory 1 which also happens to be the CCP's official explanation?