A report has claimed that the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic was developed by Chinese scientists and the military while pursuing bioweapons.

A recent report in The Sunday Times suggested that Chinese scientists were involved in covert experiments that resulted in a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, sparking the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing U.S. investigators, the report alleged that the experiments, conducted in collaboration with the Chinese military, aimed to enhance the infectivity of coronaviruses found in bat caves.

The institute had previously justified its work as a means to develop vaccines. However, after discovering a new coronavirus in a mineshaft in 2016, the institute allegedly classified its research, making it inaccessible to the public.

According to the report, U.S. investigators, who were granted access to secret intelligence, believe that the manipulation of the mineshaft viruses led to the creation of COVID-19, which subsequently escaped due to a laboratory accident.

"It has become increasingly clear that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was involved in the creation, promulgation and cover-up of the COVID-19 pandemic," one investigator said.

The investigators accused the Wuhan-based laboratory of involvement in the pandemic's creation, propagation and cover-up. Foreign experts attempting to investigate the pandemic's origins have faced obstacles from China, including surveillance and restricted communication.

The report further alleged that the Chinese military funded the covert project on the mineshaft viruses. The U.S. State Department investigators revealed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology collaborated on publications and secret projects with the Chinese military, engaging in classified research since at least 2017. This raised concerns about the institute's dual-use capabilities in virological biological weapons and vaccines, as per WION.

While the Chinese government has publicly denied any lab leak and labeled such theories false, Professor George Gao, former head of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged that authorities investigated the Wuhan Institute of Virology due to its research on coronaviruses.

"That lab was double-checked by the experts in the field," Gao previously said. "You can always suspect anything. That's science. Don't rule out anything."

Nevertheless, Gao emphasized that the origin of the virus remains unknown and urged an open-minded scientific approach when exploring all possibilities.