A biosafety level 4 laboratory that studies the “world’s most dangerous pathogens” is based in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, leading some to claim that the virus could have accidentally escaped the lab.
In a 2017 article, Nature reported on the Medical Research Institute at Wuhan University, which houses the biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) lab, which cost 300 million yuan (US$44 million) to set up.
The purpose of the lab included a plan to study “the pathogen that causes SARS,” prompting Nature to cite worries about preventing viruses from escaping the lab.
“The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times,” notes the article, referencing Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University.
Zero Hedge questioned whether the lab in Wuhan may be “China’s version of Umbrella Corp,” a reference to the pharmaceutical company in the Resident Evil universe which secretly developed bio-weapons.
According to their article, the location of the research center in Wuhan “prompts the immediate question whether the coronavirus epidemic isn’t a weaponized virus that just happened to escape the lab.”
The official explanation is that the coronavirus originated from an illegal seafood market in Wuhan that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals.”
Given that the market sold bats and snakes, with scientists linking snakes to the virus, and Chinese people consume both as food, that explanation still remains the most likely.