The Washington Times reported on Friday that the deadly animal virus epidemic spreading globally may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory linked to China’s covert biological weapons program, according to an Israeli biological warfare expert.
Radio Free Asia this week rebroadcast a local Wuhan television report from 2015 showing China’s most advanced virus research laboratory known the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Radio Free Asia reported.
The laboratory is the only declared site in China capable of working with deadly viruses.
Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied Chinese bio warfare, said the institute is linked to Beijing’s covert biological weapons program.
“Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese BW alignment,” Mr. Shoham told The Washington Times.
Work on biological weapons is conducted as part of a dual civilian-military research and is “definitely covert,” he said in an email.
Mr. Shoham holds a doctorate in medical microbiology. From 1970 to 1991 he was a senior analyst with Israeli military intelligence for biological and chemical warfare in the Middle East and worldwide, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
China in the past has denied having any offensive biological weapons. The State Department, in a report last year, said it suspects China has engaged in covert biological warfare work.
A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.
Chinese authorities so far have said the origin of the coronavirus that has killed scores and infected hundreds in in central Hubei Province is not known.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of infections with 2019-nCoV in China, including outside of Hubei Province.
Infections with 2019-nCoV also are being reported in a growing number of countries internationally, including the United States, where the first and second 2019-nCoV infections were reported on January 21 and January 24, 2020, respectively, both in travelers returning from Wuhan.
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