U.S. intelligence agencies are examining reports that researchers at a Chinese virology lab were seriously ill in 2019, a month before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported, according to U.S. government sources who warned that there is still no evidence that it originated in the disease. the laboratory.
A U.S. intelligence report still classified during the administration of former President Donald Trump alleged that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill in November 2019 that they sought hospital care. , sources familiar with U.S. intelligence reports and analysis told Reuters news agency.
According to one of the sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, it was still unclear whether these investigators were hospitalized or what their symptoms were.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday it was “completely false” that three members of Wuhan’s lab had fallen ill. The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, and then spread around the world.
“We do not have enough information to draw a conclusion about the origins [of the coronavirus]”White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing on Monday.
“We need data. We need independent research. And that’s exactly what we’ve been asking for, ”Psaki said.
The information about the researchers was published in the Wall Street Journal on May 23.
In a report written jointly with Chinese scientists and published in March, a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) He spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February he said the virus had probably been transmitted bats to humans through another animal, and that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered an extremely unlikely route.”
The U.S. intelligence community “has not ruled out any theory,” a U.S. source said. Intelligence reports of possible November infections among Wuhan Institute employees “cannot be fired,” the source added.
The hypothesis that the virus has escaped from a Chinese lab has been promoted on some conservative websites and by some Republicans in Congress. U.S. intelligence agencies have not reached a determination.
The U.S. State Department released an “information sheet” to COVID-19 and the Wuhan lab on Jan. 15, 2020, five days before Trump left office, based in part on information from the classified report , according to sources.
The Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the defense intelligence components contributed to both the public record and the classified report, according to sources. Both were brought together by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The classified report is considered valid by current U.S. government agencies, by experts investigating the origins of COVID-19, and by officials in President Joe Biden’s administration.
“We continue to have serious questions about the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its origins in the People’s Republic of China,” a White House National Security Council spokesman said.
In their own report on the origins of COVID-19 released last week, Republican members of the intelligence committee of the U.S. House of Representatives said there was “significant circumstantial evidence” suggesting that COVID -19 “could have been a leak” from the Wuhan laboratory.
These tests include information indicating that “several researchers” in the lab had COVID-19 symptoms in late 2019, according to the report.
Wang Yanyi, the head of the Wuhan laboratory, told Chinese state broadcaster CGTN that the U.S. claims in May 2020 were “Pure manufacturing“.
The WHO, which opened the annual ministerial assembly on May 24, has not announced any follow-up to the Wuhan mission but member states can raise concerns. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra is due to address a week-long forum on Tuesday.