Contradicting US intelligence, Trump says COVID-19 developed in lab
Washington DC, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States said Thursday he has evidence that the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, an unproven theory that contradicts the National Intelligence, which hours earlier had rejected claims of an artificial origin.
This fresh controversy generated by Donald Trump comes as COVID-19 cases in the US total 1,070,000 (30,000 more than Wednesday) and the number of deaths stand at 63,000 (up 2,200).
After learning that government officials pressured intelligence agencies to look for evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 having originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, where the virus originated, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in a statement Thursday ruled out the possibility of an artificial origin of the virus.
“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 federal agency added that 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.”
Hours after the statement, which was unusual for the agency, Trump claimed to be unaware of its content and said he had evidence – which he refused to disclose – that the virus actually originated inside a laboratory in Wuhan.
When asked by a reporter if he had concrete evidence “that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus,” Trump replied: “Yes, I have… I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves.”
Asked to explain what evidence he had seen, Trump said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
The Washington Post reported Thursday that senior US officials had begun exploring the possibility of imposing punitive measures or seeking economic compensation from China for its alleged mismanagement of the pandemic.
The options being considered include taking away its sovereign immunity so that both the government and victims can file lawsuits against the Asian country, and canceling some of the debt obligations.
Trump, however, was inclined towards imposing fresh tariffs on China rather than stop paying its debt.
“We can do it with tariffs. We can do it other ways even beyond that without having to play that game,” said the US president. EFE-EPA