The only basis for the claim is a quote from former Israeli intelligence officer Dany Shoham, who has expertise in biological warfare.

“Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese BW alignment,” Shoham told the Times.

While Shoham never backed up the claim made in the story that the outbreak stemmed from a biological weapon, other outlets nevertheless picked up the idea and ran with it.

The Texas radio station KPRC posted the story to its site, concluding “some intelligence experts believe the Chinese military’s biowarfare department may be responsible.” A speculation by a single former officer had become “intelligence experts.” The Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm pumped the theory on her YouTube show, asking: “Why isn’t the mainstream media talking about the origins of this deadly virus? Could it be linked to China’s biological warfare program?”

All this on the guesswork of one man—and it’s not the first time Shoham has pumped the tires on a theory without much merit.