A U.S. intelligence report revealed three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in 2019, potentially contributing to the debate about the origins of COVID-19.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a State Department fact sheet, issued during the Trump administration, said several researchers at the lab fell ill in the fall of 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
The publication noted the lab has not shared raw data, safety logs and lab records on its work investigating coronaviruses in bats.
In response to a request for comment by The Wall Street Journal, China’s foreign ministry said, “The U.S. continues to hype the lab leak theory.”
The foreign ministry added, “Is it actually concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?”
While the Biden administration declined to comment specifically on the intelligence to The Wall Street Journal, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council told the publication, “We continue to have serious questions about the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, including its origins within the People’s Republic of China.”
The spokeswoman continued, “We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2. As a matter of policy we never comment on intelligence issues.”
PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders asked Dr. Anthony Fauci during an event, “There’s a lot of cloudiness around the origins of COVID-19 still, so I wanted to ask, are you still confident that it developed naturally?”
He replied, “No, actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.”
Fauci added, “Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.”
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