London: The Wuhan Institute of Virology received a shipment of deadly viruses from Canada's Microbiology Lab months before the outbreak of Covid-19, newly-released documents confirm.
UK's Daily Express said the lethal delivery was sent from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Canada, to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in early 2019.
It quoted a CBC News report confirming that one of the scientists escorted from the lab after an investigation in July last year was responsible for exporting the pathogens to China four months earlier.
Dr Xiangguo Qiu was removed from Canada's only level-4 lab over what is described as a possible "policy breach". Dr Qiu dispatched Ebola and Henipah viruses to the lab.
Canadian officials have been quick to confirm the shipments were not related to the coronavirus outbreak, adding that the reason for Dr Qiu's eviction from the Winnipeg lab was not connected to the shipment.
Eric Morrissette, chief of media relations for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada wrote in an email: "The administrative investigation is not related to the shipment of virus samples to China.
"In response to a request from the Wuhan Institute of Virology for viral samples of Ebola and Henipah viruses, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) sent samples for the purpose of scientific research in 2019."
Experts are not convinced, though.
Amir Attaran, a law professor and epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, told CBC News: "It is suspicious. It is alarming. It is potentially life-threatening."
"What we know is that before she was removed, she sent one of the deadliest viruses on Earth, and multiple varieties of it to maximise the genetic diversity and maximise what experimenters in China could do with it, to a laboratory in China that does dangerous gain of function experiments.
"And that has links to the Chinese military."
In a gain of function experiment, a natural pathogen is made to mutate so humans can see if it has become more deadly or infectious.
Professor Attaran added: "The Wuhan lab does them and we have now supplied them with Ebola and Nipah viruses. It does not take a genius to understand that this is an unwise decision."
"I am extremely unhappy to see that the Canadian government shared that genetic material."
Canadian officials have consistently denied any connections between the pandemic and the virus shipments and stated that there is no evidence linking the shipments to the spread of the coronavirus.
The revelations come amid soaring tensions between China and the West and, given the fact that the pandemic is said to have originated in Wuhan, news of the "policy breach" is a cause of concern.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed Beijing for its campaign of "disinformation" relating to the coronavirus.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, observed: "COVID-19, if it's done anything, it has woken up the world to this rather aggressive and concerning objective of China wanting to quietly advance its own influence across the world."