US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday there was “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus epidemic originated in a Chinese laboratory – but did not provide any of the alleged evidence.
Pompeo’s claims, made in an interview with ABC this week, represented an escalation of rhetoric. He had previously said that the United States was studying the possibility that the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Pompeo said on Sunday: “There is huge evidence that this is where it started,” adding later, “I can tell you there is a fair amount of evidence that it came from this laboratory. Wuhan. “
At one point, the Secretary of State seemed confused as to whether he claimed that the Sars-CoV-2 virus (which causes Covid-19 disease) had been deliberately conceived or escaped following an accident laboratory.
“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was created by man. I have no reason not to believe this at this point, ”he said.
But when reminded that US intelligence had issued an official statement to the contrary – that the scientific consensus was that the virus was neither human-made nor genetically modified – Pompeo replied, “It’s true . I agree with that.”
Donald trump did a similar claim not supported Thursday, saying he was aware of the evidence of the pandemic started in a Chinese laboratory, but was not allowed to share it.
The same day, Pompeo declared a radio interviewer: “We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We don’t know if it came from the wet market or somewhere else. We do not know these answers. “
Sunday afternoon, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the United States had confirmed 1,134,507 cases of coronavirus and more than 66,000 deaths. Worldwide, almost 3.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 245,000 people have died.
Assailed by critics of its response to the outbreak and of the management of the ensuing public health crisis, the Trump administration sought to blame China.
Most epidemiologists say that while the epidemic may have started at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where coronaviruses have been extensively studied, it is a much less likely scenario that the theory that it was naturally transmitted from bats through an intermediate animal, mutate along the way to become dangerous to humans.
On Tuesday, the President of the United States Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said:the weight of evidenceIndicated natural transmission but was inconclusive.
Beijing rejected the suggestion that the virus could have escaped from a laboratory. But the Chinese authorities have not authorized foreign experts, including investigators from the World Health Organization, to participate in the investigation into the origins of the virus. They also did not share samples from wild animals at the Wuhan cattle market where they say the epidemic has started.
In 2018, American diplomats and scientists expressed their concerns in the State Department cables on safety standards and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Analysis of the first 41 Covid-19 patients in a medical journal, the Lancet discovered that 27 were directly exposed to the Wuhan market. The same analysis revealed that the first known case of the disease was not.
Pompeo has a fragmentary assessment of the characterization of estimates of American intelligence.
He repeatedly stated that there were no direct evidence linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, contradicting substantial American evidence implicating him.
He also repeatedly claimed that there was evidence of an “imminent threat” to US embassies posed by Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, whom the United States killed in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.
A official letter justifying the strike sent by the White House to Congress in February made no mention of an imminent threat.