A growing number of senior administration officials engaged in an investigation into the virus are now supporting the theory that the virus may have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to a CNN report.
While officials still remain divided over whether the virus emerged from nature, moving from animals to humans, the recognition marks a shift from the contempt that was heaped on former President Trump and a group of European scientists who first brought up the theory of laboratory leaks during the height of the pandemic last year.
The virus has infected nearly 190 million people worldwide and killed more than 3.5 million, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The director-general of the World Health Organization also did an about-face this week when he admitted that the virus could have escaped from a laboratory. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus now wants China to be “transparent, open and cooperative” and hand over the “raw data” that the WHO requested at the start of the pandemic, he said.
Tedros told reporters on Thursday there had been “a premature push” to dismiss the theory that the virus may have escaped the government virology lab in Wuhan. He contradicted his own statements in February following a WHO mission to China which concluded that a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely.”
“I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist and worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen,” Tedros said. ” It’s usual. “
In May, Biden ordered intelligence officials to conduct a 90-day investigation into the origins of COVID-19, “including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.” .
In April 2020, cables from the US State Department showed US diplomats worried about a lab leak at China’s first virus research lab in Wuhan. Among other things, the cables showed that American scientists were repeatedly sent to the Chinese laboratory. The cable also says scientists feared any leak from the lab could lead to a new SARS-like pandemic.
China has long rejected the idea that there could have been a lab leak, saying that since the virus was first detected in Wuhan in 2019, it has been quickly transmitted from bats to humans via another species.
Officials in the Biden administration have exerted diplomatic pressure on China to allow investigators free access to the data Chinese scientists collected at the start of the pandemic, according to a White House briefing to reporters shortly after Biden announced the new survey in May.