Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US government has not confirmed whether a lab in Wuhan, China, accidentally released the coronavirus.
Pompeo, who claimed Sunday there was “enormous evidence” implicating the lab, said at a press conference: “We don’t have certainty about whether it began in the lab.”
The top US diplomat said “the intelligence community is still figuring out precisely where this virus began.”
Pompeo called for the Chinese government to provide virus samples and access so that the US could investigate whether COVID-19 originated in a lab or naturally.
“They continue to be opaque,” he said. “The details of where patient zero, where this began, are things that are knowledge that’s in the possession of only the Chinese Communist Party.”
Other US officials are calling for Chinese transparency, including President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said Tuesday, “They need to still allow us in to talk to early patients.”
Like Pompeo, Trump expressed a high degree of certainty about the lab theory before indicating its unconfirmed.
On Friday, Trump told reporters he had seen information that gave him a high degree of confidence that the virus came from the lab. But on Tuesday, Trump told reporters: “We want them to be transparent. We want to find out what happened so it never happens again.”
In an interview on Monday with The Post, Trump said he believes the Chinese government did not purposely release the virus, but that he faults China for not controlling its spread.
The P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.Hector RETAMAL / AFP via Getty Images
“Bad things happened, let’s face it, bad things happened. They didn’t do it on purpose. But it got out,” Trump said. He clarified that he meant the virus “got out” of Wuhan, not the lab specifically.
“Well, it got out of that area, and it shouldn’t have. It shouldn’t have been allowed to have gotten out because it got out and went all over the world. So that shouldn’t have taken place, and [China] should have never allowed it to happen,” Trump told The Post.
Pompeo insisted on Wednesday that he was not contradicting his claim of “enormous evidence” against the lab.
“I’m not sure what it is about the grammar that you can’t get. We don’t have certainty, and there is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory, those statements can both be true,” he said.