The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) on Monday sided with the Chinese Communist Party and rejected claims by Washington that a secretive laboratory in the southern China city of Wuhan spawned the global coronavirus epidemic.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday in an interview with ABC there was “enormous evidence” Covid-19 originated in the lab.
This followed the revelation the intelligence community has not yet ruled out that the coronavirus accidentally escaped from the lab in Wuhan, where scientists were studying bat coronaviruses.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a rare statement addressing the matter on Thursday, as Breitbart News reported.
“The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” it said.
Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/MIPr6LVzU4
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) April 30, 2020
But the administration had not produced evidence publicly or provided it to the W.H.O., said its emergencies director, Dr Michael Ryan. “So from our perspective, this remains speculative.
“Like any evidence-based organisation, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus,” Ryan told a virtual briefing, stressing this was “a very important piece of public health information for future control”.
“If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the United States government to decide whether and when it can be shared, but it is difficult for the W.H.O. to operate in an information vacuum in that regard.”
Ryan did not reveal if indeed the W.H.O. had carried out any investigations of its own or questioned the Chinese administration over the origins of the deadly pandemic.
Instead Ryan said it was important for the W.H.O. to learn from Chinese scientists’ data and exchange knowledge to “find the answers together”, but cautioned against politicising the issue.
“If this is projected as aggressive investigation of wrongdoing, that is much more difficult to deal with. That’s a political issue,” he said.
Chinese state media attacked the U.S. claims, with the state broadcaster CCTV labelling them “insane and evasive” in a Monday opinion piece entitled “Evil Pompeo is wantonly spewing poison and spreading lies”.
The Chinese Communist Party-backed Global Times also published an editorial accusing Pompeo and Trump of “bluffing”, and said if the U.S. had evidence it should present it.