US Officials Suggest COVID-19 Originated in Chinese Lab

China Denies All Allegations and is Backed by Scientists

A+woman+in+a+lab+coat+analyzes+samples+in+a+laboratory.

Photo By Jarmoluk

A woman in a lab coat analyzes samples in a laboratory.

By Jake Schlanger, Reporter

There is growing confidence among top US officials at the White House and at the Department of Defense that COVID-19 originated from a lab in the city of Wuhan. The government has been very clear that there is no chance the virus was human-made, however, they are examining the possibility that an employee of one of the labs was exposed to it.

“I can’t speak to intelligence matters, but I find it hard to trust what comes out of the Chinese Communist Party,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on the Today Show, “and they have been misleading us and been opaque from the early days of the virus so I find it hard to believe they’re being truthful with us now.”

Officials site two cables from a State Department delegation in China that was investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s (WIV) first lab to reach the highest level of biology research safety standards. The cables detail the poor security measures utilized by the lab and management issues. A reporter for the Washington Post was able to obtain the first of the two cables.

During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the first cable said.

This is only a possibility and no government official has stated that there is conclusive evidence to support this theory. Mr. Esper stressed during his interview on the Today Show that “the majority of views” are that the virus is natural and originated from wildlife. This view is also supported by General Mark Milley, who addressed Congress the issue at a Pentagon press briefing.

“I would just say at this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate [that COVID-19 is] natural. But we don’t know [this] for certain,” Mr. Milley said.

China pushed back hard against the allegations that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory. Chinese officials also stated that there is no evidence to support the new theory.

“China’s position has been clear on the origin and transmission routes of the novel coronavirus,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. “The head of the World Health Organization has repeatedly stated that there hasn’t been any evidence pointing to the virus being lab-created.”

China is correct that its position is backed by the scientific community. Dr. Simon Anthony, who is a leading member of PREDICT (an organization that researches animal-based viruses that risk starting a pandemic), said to CNN that the virus almost certainly originated from animals. Other researchers have backed this position, and are specifically looking at bats as a carrier.

“We’re very confident that the origin of COVID-19 is in bats,” EcoHealth President Peter Daszak said. “We just don’t know where exactly it originated — which bat species exactly. And we don’t know how many others there are out there that could emerge in the future.”

This new theory comes as infections reach over 2 million globally with almost 139,000 deaths, which can be attributed to the slow response in China and the rest of the world. US officials have also warned that the US is disappointed with the lack of transparency in China. They have also stated that China will pay a price, but that it will be after the virus has run its course.