On April 14th, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the U.S intelligence has looked into the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan “hard.”
Those words are going to fuel a lifetime of additional conspiracy theories and speculation. But the tone of his voice was pretty dismissive of the idea, and he stressed that they’ve looked hard. “Hard.” And “the weight of evidence leans towards natural.”
— Kevin Baron (@DefenseBaron) April 14, 2020
“There’s a lot of rumor and speculation in a wide variety of media, blog sites, etc.,” Milley said. “It should be no surprise to you that we have taken a keen interest in that, and we have had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that.”
“At this point it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural, but we do not know for sure,” Milley said.
Most scientists have publicly dismissed the theory that COVID-19 began as an escaped bioweapon, and there is no public evidence to support it.
However, a US Senator – Tom Cotton, also suggested that it could have originated in a lab, while speaking to Fox News, but back in February.
“We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that,” Cotton said. “We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”
US officials have visited the lab several times in the past, but the last time they did so was in March 2018.
As per a report by the Washington Post, based on what Jamison Fouss, the consul general in Wuhan, and Rick Switzer, the embassy’s counselor of environment, science, technology and health, as well as other experts saw:
“What the U.S. officials learned during their visits concerned them so much that they dispatched two diplomatic cables categorized as Sensitive But Unclassified back to Washington. The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help. The first cable, which I obtained, also warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.”
“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,” reads a January 2018 cable.
Additionally, the Chinese researchers were receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other US organizations. The Chinese side had also reportedly requested more help.
“Most importantly,” the cable warned, “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. From a public health perspective, this makes the continued surveillance of SARS-like coronaviruses in bats and study of the animal-human interface critical to future emerging coronavirus outbreak prediction and prevention.”
Meanwhile, while others suggest that it could have come from a Chinese laboratory, US President Donald Trump spends his time blaming the World Health Organization for the crisis in the U.S. in an attempt to avoid any and all responsibility of the crisis.
President Trump says if the U.S. “cannot trust” WHO’s actions, “our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals.”
— ABC News (@ABC) April 14, 2020
Regardless, in terms of spread, the COVID-19 cases in total surpassed 2 million on April 15th.
The US surpassed 600,000 total cases, and its active cases sit at 549,362.
The number is higher than the current total active cases of Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the UK (even while it doesn’t say the number of recovered, so the active may be officially lower), Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal combined.
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