President Donald Trump and other administration officials are floating a widely debunked theory that the novel coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, instead of in a seafood market.

“More and more, we’re hearing the story, and we’ll see,” Trump said Wednesday about a Fox News report alleging the Trump administration believes an intern at the lab infected her boyfriend who then spread the virus at the market. “We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened.”

Trump continued to promote the conspiracy theory during a Saturday news conference, in which he said China should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the pandemic.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tried to pin the blame on China saying, “The mere fact that we don’t know the answer — that China hasn’t shared the answers — I think is very, very telling.”

China has denounced the theory, noting that the World Health Organization and experts do not believe the virus is man-made.

“China’s position has been clear on the origin and transmission routes of the novel coronavirus,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday. “The head of the World Health Organization has repeatedly stated that there hasn’t been any evidence pointing to the virus being lab-created. Many renowned medical experts around the world have also described theories such as ‘lab leaks’ as lacking any scientific proof.”

One study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, ruled out the possibility the virus came from a laboratory.

“By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes,” the first and corresponding author on the paper, Kristian Andersen, Ph.D. said.

Despite the scientific evidence suggesting otherwise, the Trump administration has continued to deflect blame onto China.


“We know that there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was,” Pompeo said Wednesday on Fox News.

Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mark Milley confirmed this week that U.S. intelligence is taking “a hard look” at the question of whether the novel coronavirus originated in a lab.

“I would just say, at this point, it’s inconclusive although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural (origin). But we don’t know for certain,” Milley told reporters on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper similarly told NBC News that the government is looking into the origins of the virus, but noted they have not reached any conclusive explanation.

“A majority of the views right now is that (the virus) is natural — it was organic,” Esper said, adding that more investigation is needed.

China has been widely criticized for its handling of the virus, including failing to alert its citizens of the virus early on and rejecting an offer from the US to have medical experts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention come and assist them.


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