Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on the World Health Organization to fully investigate the possibility that the COVID-19 virus accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan, revealing new U.S. intelligence that he says raises troubling questions.
Pompeo issued the public call on Friday night, one day after a WHO research team landed in Wuhan, where under strict Chinese oversight they are reportedly not investigating the lab.
‘Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one,’ Pompeo said as he revealed previously unreported intelligence implicating the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the origins of the pandemic.
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Among the new U.S. intel, it is claimed that researchers at the lab fell ill in the fall of 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that scientists there were working with a bat coronavirus that is 96.2 percent similar genetically to the virus that causes COVID, and that the lab has secret links to the Chinese military.
Experts have repeatedly dismissed the notion that the COVID virus was man-made, and Pompeo did not suggest that the virus was intentionally engineered or released on purpose.
Instead, he raised the possibility that it was a natural virus that had accidentally escaped from the lab through sloppy safety protocols.
‘Accidental infections in labs have caused several previous virus outbreaks in China and elsewhere, including a 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people, killing one,’ the State Department said in a briefing document.
The most shocking revelation in Pompeo’s release was intelligence suggesting that workers at the Wuhan lab fell ill with ‘symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses’ in the fall of 2019, months before the wider outbreak in Wuhan.
‘This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses,’ Pompeo said.