(USA Features) U.S. investigators are examining evidence indicating that the coronavirus sweeping the globe may have accidentally escaped from China’s only high-level biolab near the city of Wuhan, Fox News reported exclusively Friday.
American intelligence officials, acting on recently acquired evidence, are attempting to gather more information about the laboratory itself as well as the outbreak of COVID-19, the network reported.
Intelligence analysts are said to be putting together a timeline of what the government knew and “creating an accurate picture of what happened,” a source told the network.
Once the probe is completed, which is expected to be sooner rather than later, the findings are to be presented to the White House. At that point, administration officials and President Trump will use the findings to determine how best to hold China accountable for the pandemic.
Fox News first reported on Wednesday that there is increasing confidence the outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan lab, not as a bioweapon but as part of a Chinese effort to show that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal or greater than those of the U.S.
U.S. intelligence officials say they have ruled out the possibility that the coronavirus is a bioweapon at this point.
They can do that, say sources who spoke with the network, because experts note the structure of the virus — the genome mapping — shows specifically it was not altered and thus cannot be manmade.
Sources told the network they think the initial transmission of the virus occurred naturally within a strain being studied at the lab, then somehow made it into the population in Wuhan city.
It’s possible one of the researchers at the facility accidentally became infected and the pandemic spread from there.
Sources also said that “the investigation of open source and classified data points to the work in the lab of Dr. Shi Zhengli, who was working on antivirals and immunizations for coronavirus, specifically with bats,” Fox News reported.
Officials are also 100 percent certain that China has gone to great lengths post-outbreak to cover up what happened, even going so far as to plant reports that the virus originated at a wet market in Wuhan.
Sources also said they believe that the World Health Organization was either complicit in the cover-up or looked the other way, which helps explain the president’s decision to cut off the health agency’s American funding.