Trump 'confident' coronavirus may have originated in Chinese lab

Saturday, 02 May, 2020

"With respect to the World Health Organization, we know that they had one job, right?" Scientific people, intelligence people, and others.

"But we're going to find out". He declined Wednesday to extend government guidelines for dealing with the pandemic and said he planned to hold "some good, old-fashioned, 25,000-person rallies" in the "not-too-distant future".

The clip shows Lego-style characters representative of China and the US arguing over the seriousness of the virus from the beginning of the outbreak.

Asked on Thursday if he had a "high degree of confidence" that the coronavirus originated at the laboratory, Trump replied "Yes, I have". "I am not allowed to tell you that".

USA intelligence agencies are investigating whether the coronavirus behind the current pandemic originated from infected animals at a market, or escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said Thursday.

The pandemic has killed over 232,800 worldwide, with more than 3.27 million infections, while recoveries now exceed one million.

For about a month, there was no way to assemble the scattered bits of intelligence into any confident assessment of what was happening, say four US intelligence and defense officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the raw reports.

USA officials familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis have said for weeks they do not believe conspiracy theories that Chinese scientists developed the coronavirus in a government biological weapons lab from which it then escaped. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged the WHO failed to deliver and misled the world on coronavirus.

It also echoed comments by the World Health Organization (WHO), which on April 21 said all available evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in animals in China late a year ago and was not manipulated or made in a laboratory.

Among the other ideas under consideration for retaliation against China are sanctions, new non-tariff trade restrictions and a possible effort to lift China's sovereign immunity, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The Chinese government said on Thursday that any claims the virus was released from the Wuhan lab were "unfounded and purely fabricated out of nothing".

Commenters sympathetic to China also responded with videos of their own, highlighting instances in which Trump and conservative pundits downplayed the virus during the early months of the outbreak.

There is a growing push within the Trump administration to craft a list of retaliatory measures against China over its role in the coronavirus outbreak, three sources, including a US official, familiar with the matter said, but cautioned the efforts were in early stages.

The president's recent attacks on China line up with leaked Republican party memos, published by Politico, encouraging candidates to aggressively target Beijing in their public remarks on the pandemic.

President Trump on Thursday claimed he'd seen evidence linking the coronavirus to a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan - but didn't offer up any details.

The foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang cited the institute's director, Yuan Zhiming, as saying the lab strictly implements bio-security procedures that would prevent the release of any pathogen.

"I could do the same thing but even for more money, just putting on tariffs", he said.

"We're finding out how it came in different forms.You've heard three or four different concepts as to how it came out".