The United States government is exploring the possibility that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory rather than a market
The supposition is one of several others being followed up on by investigators in an attempt to determine the origin of the virus that has resulted in global unrest and claimed thousands of lives. The US does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research, and officials noted that the intelligence community is also exploring a range of other theories regarding the origination of the virus, as would typically be the case for high-profile incidents, according to an intelligence source.
The theory has been pushed by supporters of the President, including some congressional Republicans, who are eager to divert criticisms of how Trump is handling the pandemic.
An intelligence official familiar with the government analysis said a theory US intelligence officials are investigating is that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and was released to the public accidentally. According to other reliable sources , the US intelligence unit has not been able to corroborate the theory but rather, is trying to detect whether someone was infected in the lab through an accident or poor handling of materials and may have then infected others.
Though US intelligence is reviewing sensitive intelligence collection aimed at the Chinese government, some officials say it is possible the actual cause may never be known.
Asked about the intelligence, President Donald Trump replied that the US is “doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened” but refrained from discussing what he had been told about the findings.
A source close to the White House coronavirus task force also cautioned that “every time there is an outbreak someone proposes that the virus or other pathogen came out of a lab.”
An intelligence official termed the way China handled the virus as “completely reprehensible” and that the investigators are determined to build a fuller picture of how it originated.
Trump has also said that the US has “passed the peak” of new Covid-19 cases and predicted that some states would reopen this month. At the daily White House virus briefing, Mr Trump said new reopening measures would be announced after he speaks to governors.
“We’ll be the comeback kids, all of us,” the president said. “We want to get our country back. The data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak of new cases and hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress.”
When questioned about the dangers of reopening the nation too soon, Mr Trump said: “There’s also death involved in keeping it closed.” He cited mental health issues, explaining that suicide hotlines were “exploding” as the economy freezes.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said China must show “full transparency” on coronavirus, during a call with his Beijing counterpart, Yang Jiechi, the Department of State said.
Mr Pompeo has repeatedly accused Beijing of covering up the scale of the outbreak in the early days, which China denies.
China also refuted the lab theory.