From what I read, the significant benefits of using VR in science education (such as physics and chemistry) are cost effectiveness and safety.
Will VR be as good as real labs? I doubt so. (At least using the existing VR technology).
First of all, I believe the current VR creates a visually immersive environment. But the user’s other senses (eg. sense of touch, sense of smell, sense of hearings) will remain unaffected.
Secondly, the VR environment is pre-conditioned by humans. That means the rules dictating the VR are fixed by known principles. However many science discoveries came out of unexpected accidents, that is how we step into unknowns. For example, the discovery of penicillin.
Thirdly, existing VR still makes the learning experience solo. From what I see from the videos, students still cannot interact with each other in such environment. They cannot discuss nor collaborate for experiments.
Therefore though I acknowledge the obvious benefits of using VR in science education I still recognize it is not a replacement of real laboratory.