"Viruses in bats may have mixed and matched genes to create the virus that gave rise to the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003, a new study suggests. And it could happen again. All of the ingredients needed to create a new SARS virus are found among viruses currently infecting horseshoe bats," says the article on the Chinese Academy of Sciences website.
Shi and her colleagues found 11 new strains of SARS-related viruses in horseshoe bats following a five year study. She said: "Within the strains, the researchers found all the genes to make a SARS coronavirus similar to the epidemic strain."
The team found several of the strains could already grow in human cells, indicating "there's a chance the viruses that exist in these bats could jump to people".
Shoham, as quoted by the Washington Times, said it was likely that coronaviruses, particularly SARS, are held in the institute. He also noted the possibility of the institute's coronaviruses being included in China's biological weapons programme.
Shoham told the outlet that despite there being no evidence to support the claims, the coronavirus sweeping the world could have possibly been leaked from the lab.
"Outward virus infiltration might take place either as leakage or as an indoor unnoticed infection of a person that normally went out of the concerned facility. This could have been the case with the Wuhan Institute of Virology."
'The virus did not escape from a lab'
But Kiwi experts say there is no evidence the lab has done anything untoward.
"My interpretation of their research is that they detected a number of coronaviruses in Chinese Horseshoe Bats and are simply saying that all the genetic information for the current 2019-nCoV already exists in these viruses," virologist Lance C. Jennings told Newshub.