Staff at Wuhan lab needed hospital care before COVID-19 spread revealed

James Marshall
May 26, 2021

Leaders of the White House's COVID-19 task force refused to completely discount a popularly held theory that the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.

A still-classified US intelligence report circulated during former President Donald Trump's administration alleged that three Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) researchers became so ill in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, sources familiar with USA intelligence reporting and analysis said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When asked about the report of infected lab workers, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the White House was conducting an "expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic's origins that is free from interference or politicization".

Information about the researchers was published in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. "We need to get to the bottom of this whatever the answer may be, and that's a critical priority for us", he said.

The origin of the virus is hotly contested.

"As I've said many times, many of us feel that it is more likely that this is a natural occurrence, as has happened with SARS-CoV-1, where it goes from an animal reservoir to a human", said Fauci.

A US intelligence report has revealed that three researchers from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology "became sick enough in November 2019 that they required hospital care".

In April 2020, NBC News reported that the USA had indications as far back as November of a possible health crisis in Wuhan.

Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler said in May 2020 that "it is virtually impossible for this virus [to] jump from the lab". Trump as president referred to the pathogen as the "China virus" and the "China plague".

"Phase 2 of the COVID origins study must be launched with terms of reference that are transparent, science-based, and give worldwide experts the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak", USA health secretary Xavier Becerra said in a video message to the annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization.

The Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and defense intelligence components contributed to both the public fact sheet and classified report, the sources said.

USA agencies are concerned that World Health Organization representatives have been unable to conduct independent investigations inside China into COVID-19's origins, and are therefore wary of World Health Organization findings, one US government source briefed on these investigations said.

The Journal report came on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organisation's decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

Former President Donald Trump said on Monday that he is fully on board with the possibility that the virus emerged from the Wuhan lab. The UN health agency's report had said there was "no reporting of COVID-19 compatible respiratory illness during the weeks/months prior to December 2019". Since it was first detected in late 2019 the virus has killed at least 3,470,000 people around the world.

Speaking to the WHO on Tuesday, US Secretary for Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra did not mention China by name.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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