Following recent reports bolstering the theory, President Donald Trump said this week that the coronavirus might trace its origins to a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that he has seen evidence to support the hypothesis that the virus came from a Wuhan lab, Newsweek reported. Though he did not get into specifics, he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for helping China cover up its “mistakes.”
“Not allowed to tell”
The pandemic was widely believed to have originated in bats before spreading to humans. China’s wet markets, which sell live animals for human consumption, were initially named as the likeliest origin.
A new theory, however, involves researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology accidentally exposing the public to the novel virus. In a statement this week, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that the possibility is being investigated.
Trump, for his part, remained tight-lipped following his provocative remarks.
“Yes, I have,” Trump said when asked if he had seen anything that makes him confident of the virus’ origin, adding that he is “not allowed to tell” the reporter any details, according to Newsweek.
In its statement, the intelligence community shot down rumors that the virus was “manmade or genetically modified,” echoing the findings of the larger scientific community, Fox News noted. “The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus,” a statement from acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell’s office said, according to Fox.
Regardless of its true origins, many Republicans have accused China of covering up the outbreak and called for oversight of the WHO. Trump moved to suspend funding of the organization in April, addressing it in Thursday’s remarks as the “public relations agency” for China.
“They shouldn’t be making excuses when people make horrible mistakes, especially mistakes that are causing hundreds of thousands of people around the world to die,” he said, according to Newsweek. “I think the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves.”
Though The New York Times published an article describing Trump’s rhetoric as “a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic,” the president maintains that the virus “could have been stopped” by the communist regime.
There are plenty of unknowns surrounding the coronavirus and its origin, and one glaring question remains: Will China face the scrutiny needed to determine its role in this travesty? Only time will tell.