For almost two years Covid-19 completely disrupted our lives and made us prisoners in our own homes. It killed almost seven million people directly and millions more indirectly and caused major dislocation to the global economy.

et, three years after the global pandemic began in Wuhan, China, we still do not know the origins of this devastating virus. 

Two weeks ago there was a dramatic twist in the story of where exactly the Covid-19 virus originated. Based on new intelligence information, a leaked classified US intelligence report has concluded “the most likely source of the virus” was an accidental leak from a lab in Wuhan.

This revised conclusion by the US department of energy is based on a new assessment and concurs with the FBI’s belief the pandemic virus came from a lab leak and not from an animal in a Wuhan seafood market.

Though other parts of the US intelligence community are still sitting on the fence, FBI director Christopher Wray backed the conclusions of the leaked report.

Last Tuesday, he confirmed: “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.”

This represents a radical shift in the official US position. For almost two years anyone who suggested the pandemic was the result of a lab leak was branded a conspiracy theorist. This was despite the fact there was substantial circumstantial evidence for this theory, while all efforts to find an animal source for the virus drew a complete blank.

It’s astonishing that virtually all of the mainstream media and an official World Health Organisation (WHO) inquiry report vehemently discounted the possibility of a lab leak.

Instead, they championed the so-called zoonotic or animal source for the virus. The Silicon Valley social media giants like Twitter and Facebook went even further and actively censored any content that favoured the lab leak hypothesis. ​

I have direct personal experience of how this misguided consensus played out. Two years ago I published a book on the history of the pandemic, 100 Days that Changed the World. In a subsequent update to that book, I made a forceful argument that the most likely cause of the pandemic was a virus that escaped from a lab in Wuhan and not one that came from the Wuhan wet market.

My literary agent approached over 20 leading publishers with a revised version of the book, most of whom praised it. However, he faced an uphill struggle to secure a publisher because most felt there was no evidential “proof” that the virus had escaped from a lab. In other words, they were all unwilling even to question the existing consensus.

Last week, extraordinary new evidence has emerged on how powerful that consensus was. The former director of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr Robert Redfield, a virologist, testified to a House committee that based “primarily on the biology of the virus itself… Covid-19 more likely was a result of an accidental lab leak than the result of a natural spillover event”.

Dr Redfield claimed his colleague Dr Anthony Fauci had suppressed debate on the origins of the virus. By arguing that the virus had come from a Chinese lab, Redfield said he had been “sidelined” by Fauci and others. He concluded: “It’s antithetical to science, and unfortunately, that’s what they did.”

Referring to so-called “gain of function” research whereby viruses are manipulated in labs to become more infectious, Dr Redfield made the explosive claim that US agencies such as Dr Fauci’s had likely funded such research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

We know that from the start of the outbreak the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) lied to the world about the infectious nature of the Covid virus, claiming there was absolutely no evidence of “person to person” transmission.

For up to four weeks, the WHO helped to propagate those lies to the world. Vital time was lost as the deadly virus spread silently throughout the world.​

And the CCP is still lying about the origins of the virus. Having failed to come up with an animal source for Covid-19, the official Chinese position is that the virus did not originate in China at all.

Without a scintilla of scientific evidence, the CCP advances the preposterous claim that Covid-19 came into China from some other country via packages of frozen food.

The CCP’s brazen efforts to peddle implausible fictions about frozen food indicate the contempt in which it holds world opinion.

Meanwhile, this latest evidence will likely re-energise the long-simmering debate about the true origins of the virus.

It will also exacerbate tensions between the US and China when relations are at their lowest ebb in decades. Going much further than Trump ever did, the Biden administration has placed severe restrictions on China’s ability to acquire advanced US technology. These are crippling president Xi Jinping’s ambition to overtake the US in advanced computation and artificial intelligence.

The CCP’s dog-in-the-manger approach to all aspects of the pandemic has irreparably damaged China’s reputation in the West.

Recently, the US Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, said that the US needs to push China “to be more honest about what happened three years ago in Wuhan with the origin of the Covid-19 crisis”. Unsurprisingly, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, Mao Ning, vehemently rejected the lab leak theory, calling on US investigators to “stop smearing China and stop politicising origins-tracing”.

But this type of bombastic rejection of anything other than what the CCP deems to be true is no longer either credible or acceptable in the West.

Though the latest flurry of information about the origin of Covid is far from conclusive, it means a lab leak can no longer be dismissed as a fringe conspiracy theory.

For the first time we have public confirmation of the FBI’s considered judgment of how the pandemic virus emerged. As America’s premier spy agency, the bureau now believes Covid-19 “most likely” originated in a “Chinese government-controlled lab”.

And the former director of the CDC, the organisation charged with dealing with the pandemic, now agrees. The fringe is becoming mainstream.