Trump says US is probing claims that COVID-19 originated from Wuhan lab: 'We're doing a thorough examination'

Many scientists have, however, said that their 'analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus'


                            Trump says US is probing claims that COVID-19 originated from Wuhan lab: 'We're doing a thorough examination'
(Getty Images)

The US is investigating allegations that the new coronavirus may have originated in a lab in Wuhan. President Donald Trump said during a briefing on April 15 that they are hearing "more and more" about the story (allegations). 

"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. 

He was replying to a question that "multiple sources are telling Fox News that the US government now has high confidence that while the coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, it emanated from a virologist lab in Wuhan."

When asked if he has discussed the subject in his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said, "I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory. I just don't want to discuss it. It's just inappropriate right now."

A recent report claimed that two years before the COVID-19 pandemic, US officials had warned about inadequate safety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) lab, which was studying bats and their potential to cause a "new SARS-like pandemic".

Two diplomatic cables were sent to Washington, which were categorized as "sensitive", but "unclassified". "The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help," said the Washington Post article. 

A recent report claimed that two years before the COVID-19 pandemic, US officials had warned about inadequate safety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab, which was studying bats (Getty Images)

The article also said the first cable, which was obtained by the Post, warned that the lab's work on "bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic."

According to January 19, 2018, cable, during their interactions with scientists at the laboratory, the US officials noted a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators at the lab, who are required to safely operate such a high-containment laboratory.

Many scientists have said that 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.

"It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus," says the team in their findings published in Nature Medicine. 

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News, "What we do know is we know that this virus originated in Wuhan, China." He said China should come clean and share the complete story of how the coronavirus pandemic began in the city of Wuhan.

"One of the best ways they (China) could find to cooperate would be to let the world in and to let the world's scientists know exactly how this came to be; exactly how this virus began to spread," said Pompeo.

He added, "We know there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was. There is still lots to learn. The US government is working diligently to figure it out."

For more information and statistics on the coronavirus pandemic, click on the Newsbreak tracker here