Biosecurity Expert Who Oversaw Construction of Wuhan Lab Dismisses Leak Theory as '0 Percent' Chance

A biosecurity expert and virology researcher who was employed at the French embassy in China said that he did not believe COVID-19 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology after overseeing the construction of a new biosafety security measure at the lab.

In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, Gabriel Gras affirmed the safety of the institute, stating that the chance of a leak was at "0 percent."

After collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the French government, Gras supervised and accredited the safety of a biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) laboratory.

"I do not have any problem working in this [BSL-4] lab," Gras told the Post. "I would not feel in danger. The lab is of a high standard. It was my daily work to verify this, and as I had the background of safety [consultant], lab designer, and virology scientist, I was 100 percent involved."

The Wuhan lab theory, which was first dismissed as a conspiracy, has never entirely been ruled out, according to America's intelligence community.

The debates in America on the subject have been likened by China to the conversations prior to the start of the Iraqi war about weapons of mass destruction.

Gras told the Post that, while the construction of the biosafety levels took place in 2017 and he had not been back to the lab since, the possibility of a pathogen like the coronavirus escaping from the institute's BSL-3 laboratory on another campus in Wuhan was between 1 percent and 3 percent, and the BSL-4 lab at zero percent.

"I am 100 percent sure it is not constructed, developed in a lab," confirmed Gras. "When you see this virus, all the scientists in the world that looked at this virus will say the same thing, as the WHO said: This virus is a natural virus."

The Post said that, although Gras was confident COVID-19 did not come from the lab, the lab-leak theory does not imply genetic manipulation, but it considers the possibility of an accident resulting in the leak of a natural virus.

Gras also vouched for Shi Zhengli, the head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology's Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. According to the Post, Shi had described the countless "sleepless nights" she had spent worrying about the possibility of the leak, before ultimately coming to the conclusion that the sequence of the virus did not match any kept in her lab.

"She is just like any international scientist that I know," Gras had said. "I have absolutely no information or impression or feeling or whatever that she would hide something."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top adviser to President Joe Biden and Donald Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic, has remained firm in his belief as well that the virus did not come from the lab.

"When a scientist says they feel that the most likely etiology, the most likely origin is in this case natural, that doesn't mean there's a closed mind to it being a leak, even though many people feel, myself included, that, still, the most likely origin is a natural one," he said in an interview on MSNBC's MTP Daily.

Fauci said: "We have not ruled out the possibility that there could have been a leak from the lab of them working on the virus. It could have been that someone was infected early on, they brought him into the lab, and it came out of the lab, but it was already out in the community."

The discussion, in some respects, has veered drastically off of the scientific path. "For me, this is [no longer] a scientific issue," Gras said, stating that the pandemic has become widely politicized.

Newsweek reached out to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, as members of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit on February 3. A researcher and biosafety expert confirmed that he believes the chances of a lab-leak regarding the COVID-19 virus was "0 percent" likely. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Image