Customers choose meat in a Chinese wet market, January 22, 2016.
Edward Wong/South China Morning Post/Getty
Intel from US allies said it is “highly likely” that the coronavirus was “naturally occurring,” and not made in a Chinese lab.
The information was passed among the Five Eyes alliance consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
“We think it’s highly unlikely it was an accident,” a Western diplomatic official with knowledge of the intel told CNN. “It is highly likely it was naturally occurring and that the human infection was from natural human and animal interaction.”
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Intelligence from US allies suggests it is more likely that the coronavirus came from natural origins, not from a Chinese lab, CNN reported.
“We think it’s highly unlikely it was an accident,” a Western official with knowledge of the intel told CNN. “It is highly likely it was naturally occurring and that the human infection was from natural human and animal interaction.”
The official added that it is impossible to say for certain that the coronavirus was not manmade due to the lack of cooperation and transparency from the Chinese government.
The information that was passed among the Five Eyes alliance — consisting of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — contradicts the accounts from US President Donald Trump, who claimed he has seen enough evidence to give him a “high degree of confidence” that the virus came from a lab.
State Secretary Mike Pompeo displayed the same level of confidence in an interview with ABC News, saying “I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”
Neither the president nor Pompeo has released evidence to support their claims.
Another source from a Five Eyes nation told CNN that the level of confidence in the origins displayed by Trump and Pompeo exceeds that of where the Five Eyes nations are. The source noted there is a possibility that the coronavirus could have been made in a laboratory, but CNN wrote the source “cautioned there is nothing to make that a legitimate theory yet.”
The source told CNN, “clearly the market is where it exploded from.”
The coronavirus is thought to have likely originated from a wet market — an open-air marketplace for the sale of live and dead animals — in the Chinese city of Wuhan in the Hubei province.
Though a majority of intel is shared among the countries in the Five Eyes alliance, the source also noted that the US may also not be sharing all of its evidence, according to the CNN report.
The intel from the Five Eyes nations is in line with a statement released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, claiming that the virus appears not to be manmade.
“We regularly share intelligence with our partners on a variety of threats and Covid is no different,” the official told CNN. “The IC stands by the statement that the ODNI released last Thursday and we underscore three points: the IC believes the virus started in China. We’re down to two theories and have evidence on both. We agree that it does not appear to have been purposeful.”
In response to Pompeo’s claims, an editorial in Chinese state media the Global Times said, “Since Pompeo said his claims are supported by ‘enormous evidence,’ then he should present this so-called evidence to the world, and especially to the American public who he continually tries to fool.”
Epidemiologist Anthony Fauci also said in an interview with National Geographic that he does not believe the coronavirus originated in a lab.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, (the scientific evidence) is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated, ” Fauci said.
“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that (this virus) evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
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