US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was confident the coronavirus originated in a Chinese virology lab but declined to provide any evidence for his claim that is likely to further increase tension with China over the origins of the pandemic.
“We’re going to see where it comes from,” Trump said at a White House event on Thursday. “We have people looking at it very, very strongly. Scientific people, intelligence people, and others. We’re going to put it all together. I think we will have a very good answer eventually. And China might even tell us.”
Pressed to explain what evidence he had seen that the virus originated in a Chinese lab, Trump responded, “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
Prior to the White House event, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of US spy agencies, issued a statement asserting that the intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified”.
“The intelligence community will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the statement added.
Trump’s comments came as global infections passed 3.25 million, a third of which were in the US, and where the death toll was approaching 63,000. Recoveries worldwide have passed 1 million.