The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has released information confirming speculation that a coronavirus pandemic may have originated in Chinese government laboratories. He said so in a written statement on the State Department website Friday, Jan. 15.
Pompeo addressed his statement to inspectors of the World Health Organization (WHO). They had previously arrived in China to investigate the causes of the pandemic coronavirus.
Pompeo noted that the United States has reason to believe that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were sick as early as the summer of 2019, long before the first reported case of the coronavirus.
The secretary of state also stated that bat coronavirus RaTG13, which is more than 96 percent identical to SARS-CoV-19, has been studied at the institute since 2016. Pompeo added, however, that the institute has not reported on possible “experiments to increase the contagiousness or lethality” of the virus.
The U.S. State Department chief also reiterated that the pandemic could have been avoided, and criticized China for not inviting global health experts to Wuhan in the days following the outbreak. Finally, Pompeo called for access to all facilities and data by WHO experts.
In early January, Matthew Pottinger, deputy national security adviser to the U.S. president, said that the coronavirus pandemic could have been caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory. According to his information, this version is “the most credible,” but he did not cite evidence for the theory and stressed that his judgment is based on “the latest intelligence.”
In late December, Associated Press journalists published an investigation revealing that authorities in the People’s Republic of China were probably trying to classify all research on the coronavirus as state secrets.
In addition, in May 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Washington had “overwhelming evidence” that the new coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, but it has never been made public.