The report, obtained by NBC News in London, was put together by private experts, who examined mobile phone data from Wuhan. According to their analysis, there was no mobile phone activity in a high-security part of the Chinese laboratory complex from October 7 to October 24. Prior to those dates, mobile phones had been frequently used by employees.
The report’s authors argued that this could point to the occurrence of a “hazardous event”, at the institute’s National Biosafety Laboratory, between October 6 and October 11.
Furthermore, mobile data from the immediate area surrounding the laboratory seemed to indicate that roadblocks were erected between October 14 and October 19, suggesting a major incident had happened.
However, security experts remained cautious about the reliability of the report, saying that it may be based on limited publicly available mobile data and that there could be other plausible reasons for the varying levels of phone usage.
The identity of the private organisation that carried out the investigation also remained a mystery.
But the 24-page report suggested it “supports the release of Covid-19 at the Wuhan Institute of Virology” and that the pandemic began earlier than previously thought.
Last week, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus originated from the Wuhan laboratory.
Mr Pompeo also said that this was not the first time that Chinese lab failures had allowed a deadly virus to escape and endanger the world.
The Secretary of State told ABC news: “There’s enormous evidence that that’s where this began.
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“We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
“We took a lot of grief for that from the outset. “But I think the whole world can see now. Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.”
He added: “These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.”
However, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that it regarded the coronavirus as a natural phenomenon.
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The agency said in a statement: “The Intelligence Community … concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”
Meanwhile, a joint team of French and British scientists believe the coronavirus pandemic could have started as early as October and participants at the Military World Games, held in Wuhan that month, could have unwittingly helped transmit the lethal virus around the world.
Researchers at University College London and the University of Reunion Island carried out a joint study that analysed more than 7,000 genome sequence assemblies collected from around the world since January.
As a result of examining the mutations in the virus from these samples, scientists now think that SARS-COV-2 jumped from its initial host to humans at some point between October 6 and December 11.
Their findings will be published in the forthcoming edition of the scientific journal Infection Genetics and Evolution and will give credence to the theory that the deadly virus was circulating earlier than thought.
China announced its first case of COVID-19 at the end of December, with the patient dying from the disease on January 11.
However, experts started to suspect that the coronavirus was already being transmitted among people a lot earlier than this date, as a result of testimony provided by a French athlete.
Olympic silver medallist pentathlete Elodie Clouvel and her boyfriend fell ill after taking part in the Military World Games, held in Wuhan between October 18 and 27 and involving over 9,000 athletes from 109 countries.
According to Ms Clouvel, doctors told her that it was likely that she had caught COVID-19.
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