Trump claims he's seen proof COVID-19 originated in Wuhan lab despite US intel saying virus isn’t manmade
The US intelligence community has concluded that the coronavirus “was not manmade or genetically modified.” However, investigations into the origins of the outbreak are ongoing to determine whether it began as a result of contact with animals or if it resulted from a laboratory accident in Wuhan, said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in a statement.
“The entire intelligence community has been consistently providing critical support to US policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The intelligence community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” said the statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). This is the first definitive statement on the matter from US intelligence agencies.
It further said, “As we do in all crises, the (intelligence) community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to US national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
Many scientists said there is currently no evidence to state that the deadly COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab. An analysis by researchers from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research, US, said the virus is a product of natural evolution. And while the statement from the US intel suggests that the intelligence community has not yet developed a clear assessment as to how the outbreak started, it does say that officials have ruled out the possibility that the virus was manmade, agreeing with a near consensus among scientists and refuting conspiracy theories that China created and unleashed the novel coronavirus as a bioweapon.
US President Donald Trump, however, contradicted the US intel community by claiming he has seen evidence that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. During a briefing on April 30, he said that the US is looking at where it came from, who it came from, and how it happened, separately and scientifically.
At the briefing, a journalist asked Trump, “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?” Trump replied, “Yes, I have. Yes, I have. And I think that the World Health Organization (WHO) should be ashamed of themselves because they're like the public relations agency for China.” The president also added that he has not seen the statement released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the origins of COVID-19.
When asked later if he is suggesting that “maybe he has some evidence” that the new coronavirus not a naturally occurring virus, Trump said, “We're going to see where it is. We're going to see where it comes from.”
When the journalist further questioned, “And what gives you a high degree of confidence that this originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?” Trump replied, “I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that.”
He also said, “Whether they (China) made a mistake, or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose?” “I don't understand how traffic, how people weren't allowed into the rest of China, but they were allowed into the rest of the world. That's a bad, that's a hard question for them to answer,” said Trump.
Earlier, Trump had said the US is investigating allegations that the new coronavirus may have originated in a lab. “I will tell you more and more, we're hearing the story, and we'll see. When you say multiple sources, there's a case where you can use the word sources, but we are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened,” said Trump during a briefing on April 15.
US has reported over 1,069,420 coronavirus cases and more than 62,990 have died in the COVID-19 pandemic as of May 1, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.