The intelligence community has officially ruled out that the coronavirus was “manmade” or “genetically modified” but has not yet ruled out that it 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 on Thursday:
“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
Breitbart News exclusively reported on Monday that the National Institutes of Health is investigating whether the Wuhan Institute of Virology has taken “all appropriate precautions to prevent the release of the pathogens that it is studying.”
The NIH has suspended grant money from going to the lab, according to an NIH letter obtained by Breitbart News.
President Trump also acknowledged Monday during a White House press briefing there are “serious investigations” into China’s responsibility for the virus’s spread around the world.
“We’re doing a very strong investigation, and we’ll let you know what the result of that is. We should be able to get the answers to you,” he added.
Despite a slew of news articles dismissing the idea of a lab leak in the early days of the outbreak, more reporting since then has lent credence to the theory.
An April 2 Washington Post column questioned China’s initial theory that the coronavirus emerged at a Wuhan wet market and floated another: “There’s a competing theory — of an accidental lab release of bat coronavirus — that scientists have been puzzling about for weeks.”
Another Post column on April 14 revealed that U.S. Embassy officials in 2018 sent two cables back to Washington about inadequate safety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. One cable warned that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.
Richard Ebright, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, has been one of the most prominent voices on the theory that the virus may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan.
When asked this week by the Daily Caller if the virus could have entered the human population due an accident at the Wuhan lab despite the lab’s denials, he responded, “Yes. … A denial is not a refutation.”
The Washington Times reported Tuesday that a U.S. government report based on open-source information and not yet a finished product assesses that a Wuhan laboratory is the “most likely” source of the coronavirus outbreak. “There is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the report said.
China, in the meantime, is refusing to provide critical information. The government has denied the U.S. samples of the coronavirus from the earliest cases and has restricted publication on the virus’s origins without government approval.
Beijing is also rejecting calls for an international investigation into origins. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would push for an investigation at the next annual meeting of the World Health Assembly next month.
Chen Wen, a Chinese diplomat in the United Kingdom, told the BBC on Friday that calls for an investigation are politically motivated and divert China’s attention from fighting the pandemic.
“This is a politically motivated initiative, I think no one can agree on this…It would serve nobody any good,” she said.
Ironically, some Chinese officials and state-controlled media have claimed that the virus came from U.S. soldiers or a U.S. Army lab in Maryland. A recent European Union report found that China is running an overt and covert global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak.
Lawrence Sellin, a former U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases research physiologist, said in an interview with Breitbart News there are still no definitive answers for the origin of outbreak.
He said other scientists may be dismissing the theory that the virus escaped from a Wuhan lab to avoid being controversial, or to not jeopardize scientific research relationships with China.
“What they’re trying to do essentially is jam this down our throats without the evidence, and especially when there’s evidence to the contrary. To me, that’s not the scientific method, that’s the political method,” said Sellin, who is also a member of the conservative watchdog group Citizens Commission on National Security (CCNS).
“I think at this point, nobody knows where it came from,” he said.