Coronavirus (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )
The paper titled 'The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons' suggested that World War Three would be fought with biological weapons
A document written by Chinese scientists and health officials in 2015 stated that SARS coronaviruses were a "new era of genetic weapons" that could be "artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed, reported Weekend Australian.
The paper titled 'The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons' suggested that World War Three would be fought with biological weapons.
The document revealed that Chinese military scientists were discussing the weaponisation of SARS coronaviruses, five years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report by Weekend Australian was published in news.com.au.
Peter Jennings, the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), told news.com.au that the document is as close to a "smoking gun" as we've got.
"I think this is significant because it clearly shows that Chinese scientists were thinking about military application for different strains of the coronavirus and thinking about how it could be deployed," Jennings said.
"It begins to firm up the possibility that what we have here is the accidental release of a pathogen for military use," Jennings added.
He also said that the document may explain why China has been so reluctant for outside investigations into the origins of COVID-19.
"If this was a case of transmission from a wet market it would be in China's interest to co-operate ... we've had the opposite of that."
Robert Potter, a cyber security specialist who analyses leaked Chinese government documents, was asked by The Australian to verify the paper.
He says the document definitely isn't fake, reported news.com.au. "We reached a high confidence conclusion that it was genuine ... It's not fake but it`s up to someone else to interpret how serious it is," Potter said.
"It emerged in the last few years ... they (China) will almost certainly try to remove it now it's been covered."
Potter further stated that it isn't unusual to see Chinese research papers discussing areas that they're behind on and need to make progress in.
"It's a really interesting article to show what their scientific researchers are thinking," he added.
COVID-19 pandemic has been caused by a coronavirus named SARS-Co V-2 which emerged in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, several of which cause respiratory diseases in humans - ranging from a common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began there have been over 157 million cases of COVID-19 and 3.28 million deaths worldwide, according to the latest update by Johns Hopkins University.