The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic in March 2020, which led to governments around the world instituting various public health measures to curb the spread of the dangerous disease.Multiple vaccines are now widely available, but they are no longer as effective as they once were, due to COVID-19 evolving into new variants.But what exactly are the origins of COVID-19? Some believe the virus originated in nature, while others claimed it leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.New EvidenceNew evidence suggests that the Chinese government knew about COVID-19 long before the rest of the world -- and prepared accordingly.As reported by Newsweek, research from the Australian cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0 shows that labs in Wuhan bought up a mass quantity of polymerase chain reaction testing equipment (PCR) in December 2019, months before the first case of COVID-19 was reported.PCR tests are widely used to determine whether someone has contracted the novel coronavirus, and they are far more accurate than antigen and antibody tests.PCR EquipmentAccording to the firm's findings, Wuhan laboratories issued 72 contracts containing PCR equipment in 2017, and 89 contracts in 2018.This number surged in 2019, however, with Wuhan laboratories issuing 135 contracts containing PCR equipment. In addition, financial investments in PCR equipment in Wuhan increased by around 600 percent from 2015 to 2019.What's more, the 2019 increase in purchases started in May 2019, but peaked in July, five months before China reported the first case of COVID-19 to the WHO and other international organizations.What Do Experts Say?All of this suggests that the Chinese government deliberately hid information from the rest of the world, according to experts."You can see across the trend that, starting in May and all the way through to December, you see a massive increase in PCR procurement data," Cybersecurity analyst Robert Potter said."Some of this may be benign but taken together it gives us a trend that comprehensively challenges the official narrative that the pandemic started in December."Former director of U.S. National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, meanwhile, opined that "there's more than just smoke here."Lab Leak TheoryAs The Sun reported, revelations regarding spikes in PCR purchases seem to feed into the so-called lab leak theory.According to former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove, the evidence clearly suggests coronavirus leaked from a lab."If you look at the evidence coldly, the likelihood is this is an escape from a laboratory, and it's up to the Chinese to demonstrate conclusively to us that it isn't, not just to tell us," Dearlove said."I'm not saying they deliberately released it, I'm saying this is a Chinese accident but there was a cover-up from day one," he noted.