US intel: Coronavirus not manmade, still studying lab theory
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified" but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab.
The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, comes as President Donald Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 worldwide.
In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened his rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to do act swiftly enough to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 or sound the alarm to the world about the outbreak.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” said the statement. "The IC 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.”
Trump addressed the theory earlier this month, saying, “More and more, we’re hearing the story." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added, “The mere fact that we don’t know the answers — that China hasn’t shared the answers — I think is very, very telling.”
Pompeo also pressed China to let outside experts into the lab “so that we can determine precisely where this virus began.”
Scientists say the virus arose naturally in bats. Even so, Pompeo and others have pointed fingers at an institute that is run by the...