The head of the Wuhan virology lab and a University of North Carolina expert warned of the immense danger posed by their own 'gain of function' research after creating a new form of coronavirus - and said it was potentially 'too risky to pursue' in a 2015 report, it has been revealed.
Researchers inserted a protein from a Chinese rufous horseshoe bat into a SARS virus from 2002 - resulting in a new pathogen which could infect human cells, Vanity Fair has revealed.
But worried researchers wrote: 'On the basis of these findings, scientific review panels may deem similar studies building chimeric viruses based on circulating strains too risky to pursue, as increased pathogenicity in mammalian models cannot be excluded.
'The potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens.'
Wuhan Institute of Virology's lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, and an epidemiologist from the UNC, Ralph Baric, were among 15 authors of a report on novel coronavirus research.
Shi has been dubbed 'batwoman' for her research into how Covid mutates in bats.
Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci had previously denied that there was any possibility that the coronavirus was engineered in a lab.
But emails released under the Freedom of Information Act this week show he was warned at the start of the pandemic that it may have been, and he was sent a copy of a paper by Baric and Shi.
Fauci has since said his emails have been 'taken out of context' but he 'can't guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab'.