U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the US government is attempting to figure out if the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan, China, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Beijing “needs to come clean” regarding what they know.
The source of the virus remains is still disputed.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this week said that U.S. intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, however there is a lack of certainty either way.
Fox News reported on Wednesday that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan laboratory not as a bioweapon, but as part of China’s effort to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or better than the capabilities of the US.
This report and others have noted that the Wuhan lab where virology experiments take place and lax safety standards there led to someone getting infected and appearing at a closeby wet market, where the virus started to spread.
China says WHO has noted that there is no evidence coronavirus was made in a lab
At a White House news conference Trump was asked regarding the reports of the virus escaping from the Wuhan lab, and he said he is aware of them.
“We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened,” Trump said.
Reporters asked if he talked about this subject in his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory, I just don’t want to discuss, it’s inappropriate right now,” Trump said.
Pompeo, in a Fox News Channel interview after Trump’s news conference, stated that “we know this virus originated in Wuhan, China,” and that the Institute of Virology is only a handful of miles away from the wet market.
“We really need the Chinese government to open up,” Pompeo said, and he wants to know “exactly how this virus spread”.
“The Chinese government needs to come clean,” Pompeo said.
Trump and other officials have expressed levied criticism of China’s officially declared death toll from the virus of around 3,300 people, when the United States has a death toll of more than 27,000 and rising.
He said that the United States has more cases “because we do more reporting.”
“Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China, and that they have a certain number of cases and a certain number of deaths; does anybody really believe that?” he asked.