The source of the virus remains a mystery, General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that US intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, but there is no certainty either way.
Fox News reported on Wednesday that the virus 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 greater than the capabilities of the US.
This report and others have suggested the Wuhan lab where virology experiments take place and lax safety standards there led to someone getting infected and appearing at a nearby “wet” market, where the virus began to spread.
At a White House news conference Trump was asked about the reports of the virus escaping from the Wuhan lab, and he said he was aware of them.
“We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened,” he said.
Asked if he had raised the subject in his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said: “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.”
Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there is no evidence that the coronavirus that has infected more than two million people globally was made in a lab.
Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remark in response to a question about accusations the coronavirus originated in a lab in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the epidemic first emerged in late 2019.
Zhao told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing that the WHO’s officials “have said multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory”.