President Joe Biden ordered US officials to “redouble” their investigation into how Covid-19 emerged. The virus was first reported in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Chinese officials insist it emerged naturally and was passed to humans by animals.
However, some scientists suspect it may have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a senior Whitehall official confirmed UK intelligence officers were helping investigate the virus’s origins.
They said: “We are contributing what intelligence we have on Wuhan, as well as offering to help the Americans to corroborate and analyse any intelligence they have that we can assist with.
“What is required to establish the truth behind the coronavirus outbreak is well-sourced intelligence rather than informed analysis, and that is difficult to come by.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) did conduct an investigation in 2020, which backed the animals-to-humans hypothesis.
However, critics claim China was not transparent and withheld vital data from the WHO’s team.
Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, said the origins of Covid-19 have become an “intelligence issue” for the UK.
He said British security services could “incentivise” Chinese defectors to reveal what they know about the virus.
Sir Richard commented: “It seems to me there has been absolutely no scientific debate.
“The Chinese made an assertion without any explanation and that the majority of the scientific community seem to accept it at face value.
“It's clear that they've run an information operation to try and suppress any other view.
“If it did come out of the lab it raises all sorts of questions about virological research, and the mere fact this has happened and disrupted all the world's economy, what does that say to an aggressive malign regime who might want to go mucking around with a virus.”
Chinese officials insist coronavirus did develop naturally passing from animals, such as bats or pangolins, to humans.
They have rejected the suggestion it originated in a laboratory as a conspiracy theory.
However, a new report, which is due to be published in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, said the virus has “no credible natural ancestor”.
The authors, Professor Angus Dalgleish and Dr Birger Sørensen, concluded it is “beyond reasonable doubt” Covid-19 originated in a laboratory.
A copy of the report, obtained by the Daily Mail, concluded the virus was likely the result of “laboratory manipulation” during scientific research.
They said: “A natural virus pandemic would be expected to mutate gradually and become more infectious but less pathogenic which is what many expected with the COVID-19 pandemic but which does not appear to have happened.
“The implication of our historical reconstruction, we posit now beyond reasonable doubt, of the purposively manipulated chimeric virus SARS-CoV-2 makes it imperative to reconsider what types of Gain of Function experiments it is morally acceptable to undertake.
“Because of wide social impact, these decisions cannot be left to research scientists alone.”
“Coronavirus has killed at least 3.5 million people worldwide, though the real figure is likely to be considerably higher.”
The Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics Discovery is an open access journal published by Cambridge University Press using 'open peer reviews'.