WASHINGTON, May 1 - The deadly coronavirus originated from a virology lab in China�s Wuhan city before it spread across the world and claimed over 2,33,000 lives and shattered global economies, US President Donald Trump has said.
Trump�s comments undercut a rare public statement from his own intelligence community on Thursday which stated no such assessment has been made by them whether the COVID-19 outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.
Ever since the virus outbreak came to light in Wuhan in December last, speculation has been rife on whether the viral strain originated from China�s premier Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or from its nearby Huanan seafood market. The US has launched an investigation into whether the deadly virus �escaped� from the WIV.
At his daily White House briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak in the US on Thursday, Trump was asked by a reporter: �Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?�
�Yes, I have. Yes, I have,� Trump said. The President, however, refused to provide any details, except for saying that investigations are on and it would be out soon.
Asked what gave him a high degree of confidence that the virus originated from the WIV, he said, �I can�t tell you that. I�m not allowed to tell you that.�
In a rare public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on Thursday it concurs with the �wide scientific consensus� regarding COVID-19�s natural origins.
�The (intelligence community) will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,� the ODNI statement said.
It was the first clear response from American intelligence debunking conspiracy theories � both from the US and China � that the virus is a biological weapon. � PTI