Short version - we will never know the true origin because all the evidence has long since been destroyed.
I have been saying it for almost 1 1/2 years now. There is no doubt this virus was developed in a lab and, most likely, accidentally released.
Key points to remember.
There are 3 Virology labs in Wuhan. One Level 4 (highest level) and two Level 2 labs.
All 3 were known to have been studying Coronaviruses (amongst other things of course). Note: Coronoviruses occur not just in bats, but in animals like Pangolins as well. However, Pangolins are not native to China and are smuggled in from Indonesia (usually through Burma). They are an endangered species so their numbers are limited and they wouldn't normally be found in common "wet markets". At least not in any great numbers (keep in mind all the cities in China and all the other "wet markets").
At the time, Coronaviruses were not considered dangerous to humans as they were not "zoonotic" (they didn't have the ability to "jump" from animals to humans).
As such, researchers weren't required to were the same level of protective gear as they would if they were researching something like Ebola (which would only be done at a Level 4 lab).
In fact, scientists studying the Coronaviruses only needed to wear gloves and a face shield. (And the prerequisite lab coat of course.)
(One report from 2020 noted that a researcher in one lab had recorded in his notes that he'd been urinated on by an infected bat. He "self-quarantined" for two weeks and didn't notice any ill effects so continued to work.)
We now know that people can be infected and not show any symptoms, but can still pass the virus on to others.
The initial outbreak was thought to have originated in a "wet market" (where live animals are sold for food) because that was the "common" factor among the first people identified as being infected.
It was thought that they were infected from eating bats that had new strain of Coronavirus because the virus resembled known bat coronaviruses.
The Chinese Army quickly burned the wet market to the ground "to prevent further infections". The reality is, they already knew what had happened and were covering up the fact that it didn't originate from that market. By burning it down (and all the animals of course) no one would be able to prove that the virus didn't come from there by testing other animals and the spaces they were kept in.
Scientists in the West decided that it must have come from animals as the viruses didn't use any "known" backbone.
They were looking for clues that it had been genetically engineered in a lab, in a way that they would have done such a thing.
However, they soon realized there was a problem with their thinking. Covid-19 had some traits found only in Bat coronavirus and some traits found only in Pangolin coronaviruses.
These traits, combined, made it ideal for attacking Human cells. Something they couldn't do before.
So scientist came up with a new theory. The virus must have had an "intermediary host" (like a Pangolin).
So then their theory became that, somehow in that wet market, bats (all infected with the same type of Bat coronavirus) must have infected some Pangolins (that were all infected with the same type of Pangolin coronavirus). Then (somehow) those Pangolins passed on a new type of coronavirus to some other bats, where it mutated into a type that could pass from animal to human.
Then those bats were bought and eaten and bingo ! We have a pandemic !
But most soon realized that there was literally no way that could happen in a live market. On that scale. In that short of time period. Especially when animals like Pangolins would be rare to begin with.
But it could happen in a lab where scientist were researching those viruses in controlled environments where hundreds (or thousands) of scientists could conduct thousands (or 10s of thousands) of experiments over the course of many years. And have budgets that would allow them to buy as many Pangolins as they wanted, regardless if they are considered an endangered species.
It was known as far back as 2015 that researchers in those Wuhan labs were studying "chimera" viruses. (Chimera viruses are where researchers try to combine two different viruses, like Ebola and Influenza for example, to make a "super" virus.)
So it wouldn't be a stretch to think that they may have been studying what might happen if "animal P18 infected with Type 2 Pangolin coronavirus has Type 7 Bat coronavirus from animal B32 injected into it".
(Now multiply that by hundreds of scientists conducting thousands of similar experiments.)
Which is literally what scientists do. All day. Every day. "What if I combine heated Dihydrogen monoxide with disaccharides, citric acid and some of that Earl Grey I have on the shelf ?". (I've heard that you are supposed to add lemon to your tea if it's Earl Grey.)
It is also known that in one lab, researchers were specifically studying ways that the Bat coronavirus might be able to jump from bats to humans (become "zoonotic").
(Not that they were trying to find a way to do it, but more likely studying similar viruses that can jump from animals to humans and trying to determine if the bat coronavirus had similar traits.)
When looking at all the "clues" it is evident that this virus was purposely developed in a lab as the result of years of experiments.
It is most likely that the release was accidental, probably through a researcher who was unknowingly infected and made numerous trips to the wet market. (Maybe to buy more animals for research perhaps ?)
(Keep in mind that one of the labs is located about 300 meters from that same wet market where they originally thought the virus came from.)
Another telling point.
A Russian diplomat sent out a tweet claiming the virus had been developed in a US Army lab and "smuggled" into Wuhan where it was released.
That tweet was largely ignored - until it was noticed by a Chinese diplomat who retweeted it to his circle of friends.
It went viral, to the point where the Chinese State Media (controlled by the Communist Party of course) started spreading the rumour themselves !
They immediately gave up on the notion that the virus came from a wet market the instant they found a way to blame it on someone else (especially if that someone was the USA).
The WHO, led by the man who only has his position because China pushed for it, did a half-hearted investigation In January 2021, which (initially) concluded that the virus couldn't have come from a lab.
Apparently the investigation team was made up of (mostly) scientists, not "investigators" and that they were not given full access and that when they questioned any of the staff, Chinese Security personnel were present (possibly as an intimidation factor to make sure the staff didn't say too much).
Also, the investigation didn't happen until January 2021. Well over a year later and plenty of time for any evidence (and ongoing research) to disappear.
Last July/Aug, China was slamming any suggestion that there should be a follow up investigation as pretty much everyone knows the first one was a sham.
Needless to say, China has been quite heavy-fisted towards anyone suggesting that the virus came from one of their labs.
The end result is - we'll never know unless some scientist suddenly defects from China and exposes what really happened (or didn't).
Though I suspect that anyone with such knowledge probably isn't in any position to defect. Look what they did to the doctor who first went public about the outbreak in Wuhan. They immediately threw him in prison where he apparently died "from covid infection".
But when you put all the pieces together, it is far more likely that the virus was accidentally leaked from a lab than the idea that a whole bunch of different animals were all infected with the same types of viruses and spread them back and forth in a very short period of time, leading to a new virus that suddenly is not only perfectly adapted to infecting humans, but able to jump to them easily. Oh and almost immediately develop the ability to be transmissible by air (instead of just through bodily fluids).
Yet there are people who think that's what happened.
Because the idea it might have come from a lab that was studying those same viruses is "crazy" conspiracy theory stuff.
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