Both the U.S. military and the intelligence community are now actively investigating a theory that claims the coronavirus sweeping across the globe might have come from accidental contamination within a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than from a wet market as has been widely speculated.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, told reporters on Tuesday about the investigation into the theory, stating, “On the lab piece … it should be no surprise to you that we’ve taken a keen interest in that, and we’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that. And I would just say at this point that it’s inconclusive — although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain.”
A columnist for the Washington Post, Josh Rogin, posted a tweet saying that “many senior officials disagree with Milley and believe the lab origin is much more likely than the seafood market story.”
Here’s more from The Washington Examiner:
“There’s a gap in the intel,” Rogin said. “That’s largely because the Chinese government has censored and suppressed all evidence related to the lab.”Trending:
The World Health Organization concluded that the COVID-19 virus first appeared in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, at the end of 2019, and an investigative report in February found “early cases identified in Wuhan are believed to have acquired infection from a zoonotic source” in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
A piece that was published by WaPo this week reported that US Embassy officials in the nation of China gave warnings concerning biosecurity and various kinds of management problems at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This is China’s first biosafety level 4 lab, conducting research on infectious diseases, which just so happens to include coronaviruses from bats.
One particular State Department cable labeled “sensitive but unclassified” warned back in January of 2018 about some issues with the lab in Wuhan, which is located in close proximity to the wet market located in the area, which is where a vast majority of the cases were traced back to.
“During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the cable said. “Most importantly, the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus. This finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases.”
One U.S. official said, “The cable was a warning shot. They were begging people to pay attention to what was going on.
Another senior member of the Trump administration went on to say, “The idea that it was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from the lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points, and there’s almost nothing on the other side.”
The bottom line here is that the chances of this virus coming from some sort of conspiracy theory aren’t all that likely. The chances this whole thing was a stupid, costly mistake is pretty dang high. It’s time to stop fear mongering over the virus and really get down to finding the cause of this issue.
Learning where it came from and how it started spreading could provide key elements of information in prevention of future outbreaks. Let’s hope we get to the bottom of this case as soon as possible.