Top government officials, including the secretary of state, are raising concerns about China’s involvement with the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that without China providing transparency, the US cannot discern where the virus originated.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark A. Milley could not completely deny reports that the virus originated in a Chinese research lab in Wuhan, merely calling the evidence “inconclusive.”
“We’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that. At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of the evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain,” the nation’s top general said while speaking to reporters Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised similar concerns about the source and initial handling of the virus, as well as the World Health Organization’s management of the situation.
“[The WHO] had access to the Chinese Communist Party, [but] didn’t give Americans access when we needed in their most timely point at the very beginning,” Pompeo told Fox News Tuesday.
“And then we know they have this lab. We know about the wet markets. We know that the virus itself did originate in Wuhan. So all those things come together,” he continued.
Pompeo went on to slam the World Health Organization for their bungling the response to the pandemic.
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“We need the World Health Organization to do its job, to perform its primary function, which is to make sure that the world has accurate, timely, effective, real information about what’s going on in the global health space. And they didn’t get that done here,” he told Sean Hannity in the interview.
Both men’s comments came the same day The Washington Post reported that US embassy officials expressed concern as long ago as January 2018 about a Wuhan lab that was conducting dangerous studies on coronaviruses from bats.
Officials were sent down to the lab on multiple occasions by the US Embassy in China, the paper reported, and were so alarmed by what they saw on their visits that they dispatched two diplomatic cables back to Washington warning about safety and management risks and proposing they send more help.
The first cable also warned that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission showed a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.