Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts said on Wednesday during the Coronavirus Task Force press briefing that U.S. officials have “high confidence” that the coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
“Multiple sources are telling Fox News today that the United States government now has high confidence that while the coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, it emanated from a virology lab in Wuhan,” Roberts said. “That because of [lax] safety protocols, an intern was infected who later infected her boyfriend, and then went to the wet market in Wuhan where it began to spread.”
“Does that correspond to with what you have heard from officials?” Roberts asked.
“Well, I don’t want to say that John, but I will tell you, more and more we’re hearing the story and we’ll see,” Trump responded.
Trump, who normally demonizes the use of anonymous sources, continued, “When you say multiple sources, now there’s a case where you can use the word ‘sources.’ But we are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened.”
“In your many conversations with President Xi, Mr. President, did you ever discuss with him State Department concerns about [lax] safety protocols that had been reported to the State Department from the embassy in Beijing about that laboratory?” Roberts asked.
“I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to discuss it. It’s inappropriate right now.”
JR: "Multiple sources are telling FNC today that the United States government now has high confidence that while the coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, it emanated a virology lab in Wuhan"
Trump on convo w/Xi: "I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the lab" pic.twitter.com/llcsPLNuF1
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 15, 2020
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the State Department had repeatedly warned that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was not properly managed and that there were serious concerns about coronavirus research that was taking place at the lab that involved bats.
“In January 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending U.S. science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which had in 2015 become China’s first laboratory to achieve the highest level of international bioresearch safety (known as BSL-4),” The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin reported Tuesday. “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.”
It is important to note that The Washington Post’s report indicated that there is no credible information that exists that suggests that the virus was created or engineered, which is not the same thing as saying that it did not come from a lab.
One of the cables sent by the State Department in January 2018 said, “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 Post added:
There are similar concerns about the nearby Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention lab, which operates at biosecurity level 2, a level significantly less secure than the level-4 standard claimed by the Wuhan Insititute of Virology lab, Xiao said. That’s important because the Chinese government still refuses to answer basic questions about the origin of the novel coronavirus while suppressing any attempts to examine whether either lab was involved.
Sources familiar with the cables said they were meant to sound an alarm about the grave safety concerns at the WIV lab, especially regarding its work with bat coronaviruses. The embassy officials were calling for more U.S. attention to this lab and more support for it, to help it fix its problems.
One U.S. official told The Post, “The cable was a warning shot. They were begging people to pay attention to what was going on.”
“The idea that it was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial,” the official continued. “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.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.