Did it start in October?



  • Cellphone data suggests October shutdown at Wuhan lab, but experts are skeptical

    A private analysis of cellphone location data purports to show that a high-security Wuhan laboratory studying coronaviruses shut down in October, three sources briefed on the matter told NBC News. U.S. spy agencies are reviewing the document, but intelligence analysts examined and couldn't confirm a similar theory previously, two senior officials say.

    The report — obtained by the London-based NBC News Verification Unit — says there was no cellphone activity in a high-security portion of the Wuhan Institute of Virology from Oct. 7 through Oct. 24, 2019, and that there may have been a "hazardous event" sometime between Oct. 6 and Oct. 11.

    It offers no direct evidence of a shutdown, or any proof for the theory that the virus emerged accidentally from the lab.

    If there was such a shutdown, which has not been confirmed, it could be seen as evidence of a possibility being examined by U.S. intelligence agencies and alluded to by Trump administration officials, including the president — that the novel coronavirus emerged accidentally from the lab.

    But that is one of several scenarios under consideration by U.S. intelligence agencies. Many scientists are skeptical, arguing that the more likely explanation is that the virus was transmitted to humans through animals in a Wuhan live produce market. The World Health Organization said Friday it believed the "wet" market played a role in the spread of the disease.

    The first known case of coronavirus in China has been traced back to Nov. 17, but some researchers are beginning to question that timeline, given that a case has been documented in France in December.


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