The UK does not believe the Covid pandemic leaked from a lab in Wuhan, the Foreign Secretary has revealed – but only "on balance" and "for now".
Dominic Raab said the UK's "best information" remained that it "jumped" from animals to humans – but admitted they did not have "all the answers".
“If you’re asking me whether we think, on the balance of probabilities, that it originated in a lab, our best information for now is that it didn’t, but we don’t have all the answers," he told Sky News.
“That’s why internationally we wanted the review to go in to China, to get all the answers, to have all the co-operation, so we have the full picture rather than these possible, potential, plausible options.
“But on balance we do not believe it came from a laboratory, we think it’s much more likely to have jumped from animals to humans.”
PM Boris Johnson added: "At the moment the advice we’ve had is it doesn’t look as though this particular disease of zoonotic origin came from a lab. Clearly anyone sensible would want to keep an open mind about that.”
The P4 lab, which is part of the greater Wuhan Institute of Virology and conducts research on the world's most dangerous diseases, has been accused by top US officials of being the source of the Covid-19 pandemic
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Asked if he still believed Covid originates from “demented beliefs” about grinding up “the scales of a pangolin”, the PM replied: “I do think there’s a problem with zoonotic diseases and this is clearly the thing we have to focus on…. farming wild animals.”
Mr Raab later told Times Radio "I don't think we know yet" where the virus came from and said there must be "full co-operation" in any investigation from the government in Beijing.
World leaders discussed the theory when they met at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, amid mounting claims Covid-19 could have been unleashed in an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Mr Raab said they "compared notes" over the theory. The city was at the centre of the first outbreak in December 2019.
Speaking to journalists at the G7 Summit over a video link from Geneva, World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed G7 leaders discussed the lab leak theory.
Lab workers inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology
(Image: Wuhan Virology Institute)
Dr Tedros, who has previously urged China to fully cooperate with investigations, said grieving families whose loved ones died from Covid-19 should have answers over the theory.
He added: "The respect these people deserve is knowing what the origin of this disease is."
Days ago, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he "just doesn't know" whether the theory that the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab is true.
"It's vital that we have a fully independent investigation in China finding out all we can about this and that is allowed to happen unencumbered," he said.