Slowly but surely, the narrative on the origins of the pandemic has shifted, despite the best efforts of China and its allies in the scientific establishment to dismiss any idea it might have been due to a leak from a lab.
In a startling development last week, the head of the World Health Organisation’s controversial inquiry that had insisted this cause was ‘extremely unlikely’, admitted Patient Zero could have been linked to research by Wuhan scientists.
Peter Ben Embarek, a Danish food scientist who led the probe earlier this year, said there might have been ‘human error’, and that a researcher infected while collecting samples in a bat cave was also ‘a likely hypothesis’.
His disclosure comes as US President Joe Biden is set to be given a report that he demanded from US intelligence agencies, which seeks to determine the most likely source of the deadly coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.
At the centre of this mystery is Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli – nicknamed ‘Batwoman’ because of her virus-hunting trips to the bat caves of southern China, hundreds of miles from Wuhan. Her team has collected more than 10,000 bat samples.