According to US government outlets, US intelligence services are investigating claims that researchers at a Chinese virology laboratory became critically ill in 2019, a month before the first cases of COVID-19 were identified. However, there is still no evidence that the disease occurred at the facility.
According to sources familiar with US intelligence monitoring and analysis who spoke on the condition of anonymity, a still-classified US intelligence study circulated during former President Donald Trump’s administration said that three Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) researchers were so ill in November 2019 that they needed hospital treatment.
According to one of the articles, it was unknown if these researchers were hospitalised or what their conditions were. The virus first appeared in Wuhan and then spread across the world.
“We don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion about the origins” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a news conference on Monday. “We need information. An impartial investigation is needed. And that’s just what we’ve been advocating.”
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal released information about the researchers.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said on Monday that three WIV staff members had fallen ill was “completely untrue”
The origin of the virus is hotly contested. In a report issued in March written jointly with Chinese scientists, a World Health Organization-led team that spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February said the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal, and that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway”.
According to one official US source, the US intelligence community “hasn’t ruled out either theory” According to the author, intelligence reports about potential November infections among Wuhan Institute workers “can’t be dismissed”
The theory that the virus escaped from a Chinese lab has been spread by some conservative blogs as well as some Republicans in the United States Congress. The origin has not been determined by the US intelligence services.
According to reports, the US State Department released a briefing on COVID-19 and the Wuhan lab on January 15, 2020, five days before Trump left office, relying in part on details from the classified report. As president, Trump referred to the pathogen as the “China virus” and “China plague”
According to the sources, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and defence intelligence elements have contributed to both the official fact sheet and the secret paper. Both were compiled by the Director of National Intelligence’s Office.
Current US government departments, analysts studying the sources of COVID-19, and officials in President Joe Biden’s administration all believe the secret study is right.
US agencies are worried that WHO investigators have been unable to perform unbiased inquiries into the sources of COVID-19 within China, and are therefore sceptical of WHO conclusions, according to a US government official briefed on the investigations.
“We continue to have serious questions about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its origins within the People’s Republic of China,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said.
Republican members of the US House of Representatives intelligence committee claimed in their own study on the source of COVID-19 released last week that there was “significant circumstantial evidence” indicating COVID-19 “may have been a leak” from the Wuhan lab.
According to the paper, such evidence provided reports suggesting that “several researchers” at the lab developed COVID-19 symptoms in the fall of 2019.
The WHO has not confirmed any follow-up to the Wuhan mission, but member states which address questions in speeches to the week-long forum. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services in the United States, is scheduled to speak on the subject on Tuesday.
More than 3.4 million people have died as a result of the pandemic.