The US claims it has explosive new evidence that proves COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan research lab.
New documents reveal scientists in Wuhan fell ill with COVID-like symptoms in late 2019 – months before the pandemic began to ravage the world.
But now, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has demanded the World Health Organisation launch an investigation into the possibility that COVID was an “accidental” lab leak.
Accusations of a cover-up by the Chinese government have been repeatedly dismissed and pressures for a full investigation into the lab suspected of being the source of coronavirus have so far been resisted.
But the US has always insisted China is to blame, with Donald Trump vowing to declassify bombshell secret intelligence linking the virus to their science facility.
Today’s explosive new evidence comes just days after it was reported Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo were planning a major intervention.
Mr Pompeo revealed new studies from the US intelligence claim that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in the autumn of 2019 – earlier than previously believed – with symptoms consistent with COVID.
“This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses,” Mr Pompeo said.
It comes after a government official said the most “credible” theory around the origin of coronavirus is that is escaped from a lab in Wuhan.
Top aide to Mr Trump, Matthew Pottinger claimed leaders in China are “admitting” there is a chance theories suggesting COVID-19 started in a “wet market” are false.
Mr Pompeo called on the WHO to investigate the lab in question, just one day after a team from the organisation landed in Wuhan.
The team is set to look into the ‘wet market’ originally linked to early infections, but there are believed to be no plans to investigate whether the virus accidentally escaped from the lab.
He said: “Beijing continues to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.”
He suggested it was a natural virus that had accidentally escaped the lab, rather than it been a man-made virus that was purposelessly released.
A briefing document from the State Department read: “Accidental infections in labs have caused several previous virus outbreaks in China and elsewhere, including a 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people, killing one.”
The report also suggests that researchers there had been working with a bat coronavirus known as RaTG13, that is 96.2 per cent similar genetically to the virus that causes COVID.
Mr Pompeo also claimed that the lab has military links.
“The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017,” he added.
He wants Beijing to allow the WHO research team access to the Wuhan lab.
The State Department said: “WHO investigators must have access to the records of the WIV’s work on bat and other coronaviruses before the COVID-19 outbreak.
“As part of a thorough inquiry, they must have a full accounting of why the WIV altered and then removed online records of its work with RaTG13 and other viruses.”
It comes after online data related to the lab was deleted – sparking fresh accusations of a cover-up by the Chinese government.
Hundreds of pages of information connected to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology have been wiped alongside key data from a top virologist nicknamed “Batwoman”.
More than 300 studies published by the National Natural Science Foundation of China – including investigations into diseases that transfer from animals to humans – are no longer available, The Mail on Sunday revealed.
The state-run organisation deleted scores of online content, including studies carried out by Wuhan based virologist Shi Zhengli – dubbed “Batwoman”.
The first cluster of COVID-19 cases was discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan in China.
A WHO team of experts arrived in Wuhan on Thursday to start an investigation into the origins of the virus.
“We may never find who the patient zero was,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead.
This article originally appeared on The US Sun and was reproduced with permission