SA, I cannot see how it would be possible to prove that this or any of the recent viruses didn’t escape from a biolab, and there have been multiple previous escapes.
The precautionary principle must be applied.
Work is proceeding out of accountability, some of it extremely hazardous. I am not China-bashing; in 2001 anthrax was smuggled out of a US military lab and used to blackmail US politicians; it was never determined who took it. Recently in the UK, a ‘novichok’ substance may well have been smuggled out of Porton Down. Foot and Mouth escaped from a lab. SARS escaped twice.
These labs are not secure. There needs to be better oversight, possibly an organisation like the IAEA making random inspections. Goldacre’s Bad Pharma alerts us to just how much goes on in secret in the pharmaceutical industry; why should we assume that biolabs are any better? This whole area of “secret science” needs completely cleaning out; it must not be tolerated.