A new report says U.S. government officials have launched a full investigation into whether the COVID-19 virus escaped from a testing lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
According to Fox News, the U.S. is gathering more intelligence and creating a timeline based on known facts about the initial spread of the virus to create “an accurate picture of what happened.”
“Once that investigation is complete — something that is expected to happen in the near-term — the findings will be presented to the Trump administration. At that point White House policymakers and President Trump will use the findings to determine how to hold the country accountable for the pandemic,” Fox reported.
Officials ultimately plan to use facts from the investigation to determine how China should be held accountable for unleashing a deadly pandemic.
For now, according to the report, government officials have eliminated the possibility that the virus was man-made or engineered as a bioweapon.
The Fox report came as it was reported that U.S. officials were increasingly confident that the virus began at a lab in Wuhan and that China had worked to cover up the spread of the disease.
Yahoo News reporter Jenna McLaughlin, after speaking with a number of current or former intelligence and national security officials, reported that there were suspicions about how quick China was to blame the disease on wet markets in Wuhan.
“I find it very funny that China very quickly blamed the market,” an anonymous intelligence official told McLaughlin.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has come under fire as the potential source of the virus.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about the lab with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday.
“We know that the first sightings of this occurred within miles of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We know that this — the history of the facility, the first BSL-4 lab where there’s high-end virus research being conducted, took place at that site,” Pompeo said.
“We know that the Chinese Communist Party, when it began to evaluate what to do inside of Wuhan, considered whether the WIV was, in fact, the place where this came from,” he said.
The secretary also criticized the World Health Organization for being complicit in accepting Chinese data about the virus.
“The Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization have a responsibility to the world to take those facts and take them to their logical conclusion and find out these answers, these important answers. These aren’t political. This is about science and health, and we need to get to the bottom of it,” Pompeo said.
American health and science diplomats were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in March 2018 and later warned of inadequate safety measures at the lab, The Washington Post reported.
A memo written by the scientists warned of a “serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”
“Mr. President, multiple sources are telling Fox News today that the United States government now has high confidence that, while the coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, it emanated from a virology lab in Wuhan,” Fox News correspondent John Roberts said. “That, because of lax safety protocols, an intern was infected, who later infected her boyfriend, and then went to the wet market in Wuhan where it began to spread. Does that correspond with what you have heard from officials?”
“Well, I don’t want to say that, John,” Trump responded. “But I will tell you, more and more, we’re hearing the story. And we’ll see. … We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened.”
Fox News reported that while the investigation into whether the virus escaped the lab is just getting underway, U.S. officials are 100 percent certain that China attempted to hide the genesis of the virus from the world and that the WHO was either “complicit” in those efforts or that WHO officials “looked the other way.”
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