According to new reports, scientists have discovered traces of a variant of coronavirus while examining DNA from Antarctica soil that was sent to the firm Sangon Biotech in Shanghai.
Daily Mail reported that “researchers also found genetic material from Chinese hamsters and green monkeys, which may suggest the virus was being examined in a lab, using either the animals themselves or their cells”.
Many supporters of lab leak theory think it’s possible that Chinese scientists engineered the virus to make it more dangerous during experiments.
Viscount Ridley, author of “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19,” suggests that the latest evidence may support the lab leak theory because of the presence of “three key [Covid] mutations” that are seen in the early sequences of the virus.
Despite all of this, the findings do not give a definite answer, as the soil DNA may have been contaminated with the virus by the first COVID patients that were reported in December 2019.
Though the samples were sent to Sangon Biotech during the same month, “it is not clear when they were analysed,” according to Daily Mail.
The findings, which come from Eotvos Lorand University and the University of Veterinary Medicine, were published online but have yet to be formally reviewed by other scientists.
Professor Jesse Bloom, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle chose to re-run the data from Hungary to see if the Antarctic samples did contain the virus, but said the “ultimate implications remain unclear”.
The Sangon facility is reportedly used by Chinese researchers, including those at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is the center of the lab leak theory.
Another theory claims “that the genetic material is from other animal-borne coronaviruses that were circulating at the time or being experimented on by the Chinese,” according to Daily Mail.