From Trumpian conspiracy theory to credible scenario: Here’s the Wuhan lab-leak theory timeline

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Security moves journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Credit: Ng Han Guan/AP
Security moves journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Credit: Ng Han Guan/AP

[I]n recent months the idea that [SARS-CoV-2] emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — once dismissed as a ridiculous conspiracy theory — has gained new credence.

How and why did this happen? 

Dec. 30, 2019: The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issues an “urgent notice” to medical institutions in Wuhan, saying that cases of pneumonia of unknown cause have emerged from the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

Feb. 6: Botao Xiao, a molecular biomechanics researcher at South China University of Technology, posts a paper stating that “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.” He pointed to the previous safety mishaps and the kind of research undertaken at the lab. He withdrew the paper a few weeks later after Chinese authorities insisted no accident had taken place.

July 4: The Times of London reports that a virus 96 percent identical to the coronavirus that causes covid-19 was found in an abandoned copper mine in China in 2012… This virus was collected in 2013 and then stored and studied at WIV.

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March 22: The Australian newspaper reports: “Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers working on corona­viruses were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with covid-19 in early November 2019 in what U.S. officials suspect could have been the first cluster.”

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