Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus originated in a lab in China.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that it had not seen that evidence. During a press conference, Dr. Mike Ryan said, “We have not received any data or specific evidence from the US government relating to the purported origin of the virus. From our perspective, this remains speculative.”
He continued, “If that data is available, it would be up to the US government to decide whether and when it can be shared, but it’s difficult for WHO to operate in an information vacuum.”
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Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters the WHO believes the virus originated in bats, “Coronaviruses circulate in bats so there is an ancestral link to bats and that is something we know based on the genetic sequence of this coronavirus.”
“What we really need to understand is the intermediate host — the animal that was infected by bats and that infected people in the earliest cases,” she said.
She added, “And that’s very important for us to understand from a public health perspective to prevent this from happening again.”
During an interview on Sunday, Pompeo said there is evidence that the virus originated in a lab, “There’s enormous evidence that that’s where it began.”
“We have said from the beginning, that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset. But I think the whole world can see now,” he added.
Pompeo’s comments were made days after President Donald Trump said he had seen evidence that supported the claim the virus originated in a lab.
Still, many health experts have dismissed that idea and instead have said the virus most likely originated in bats and spread to humans in a market.