Amid the persistent inquiries into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, China faces renewed allegations suggesting a potential laboratory leak and its association with biowarfare.

A recent report by the Sunday Times claimed the emergence of evidence indicating Chinese scientists' involvement in the development of hazardous coronaviruses in collaboration with the Chinese military, potentially giving rise to the global disruption witnessed in 2020.

Drawing from a multitude of sources, including confidential reports, memos, emails, scientific papers and interviews with U.S. State Department officials engaged in pandemic investigations, the report presented a series of compelling allegations against China's research program.

Previous attempts to ascertain the cause of COVID-19 have produced inconclusive results. The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an investigation in January 2021, which failed to definitively identify a natural source while deeming the notion of a laboratory leak as "highly unlikely." The investigation was further complicated by China's lack of transparency, impeding conclusive findings.

China has consistently denied the existence of evidence supporting the lab leak theory as the origin of COVID-19.

Confronted with these new allegations, the international community faces the question of how to respond and seek further clarity on the matter, if possible. CNA has suggested different ways to go about the issue and possibly get down to the bottom of the COVID-19 origins.

According to the Asian news network, an additional investigation, possibly conducted through an international organization such as the WHO, is one potential avenue for exploration. However, such an undertaking would encounter substantial challenges, including China's limited transparency and the difficulty in distinguishing between legitimate biological research and biowarfare intentions.

The secretive nature of biowarfare research allows for easy concealment, with experiments often carried out in covert facilities equipped for swift dismantlement at the slightest suspicion of inspection.

Another possible action for concerned states is to file an official complaint, asserting that China may have violated the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), noted CNA. This legally binding treaty prohibits the possession and use of biological weapons.

The U.S. has previously expressed its inability to determine China's compliance with the BWC due to insufficient information. Complaints can reportedly be lodged through the United Nations.

But even if it were established that COVID-19 resulted from a laboratory leak, it is important to note that such an incident would likely be accidental rather than a deliberate act of biowarfare, per CNA.

Ultimately, the international community may choose to take no further action in the absence of irrefutable evidence. While the Sunday Times report presented new data, its conclusive nature remains debatable.

Engaging China on the topic of biowarfare would undoubtedly carry significant diplomatic implications and potentially unsettling political dynamics.

Consequently, the international community is unlikely to advance the COVID-19 dispute without concrete evidence supporting the existence of a Chinese biowarfare program. Given the inherent challenges associated with biological research, achieving absolute certainty may prove elusive.

Meanwhile, a report published in the Substack newsletter Public claimed that the scientists working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were the first to contract COVID-19 before the disease sparked the pandemic.

The researchers reportedly conducted "gain-of-function" experiments to enhance the infectiousness of coronaviruses without following safe laboratory practices. One scientist admitted that they got bitten by a bat in the laboratory.

Prior to the report, the U.S. State Department and the Department of Energy already voiced their suspicions of a potential lab leak and researchers falling ill before the global outbreak. However, the Chinese government vehemently denied the allegations.