In a Wall Street Journal Exclusive, published on Sunday, new information about staff who became ill at the Wuhan Lab once again sparks intrigue into the debate of the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory” reports the WSJ.
The new reporting further substantiates the details from a State Department fact sheet that was issued in the final days of the Trump administration. The fact sheet explained that several researchers from the lab “a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens” because sick in the autumn of 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
There have been differing opinions and political opining as to the origins of the deadly coronavirus. The WSJ notes “the disclosure of the number of researchers, the timing of their illnesses and their hospital visits come on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into Covid-19’s origins.”
The Biden administration has declined to comment on the intelligence and has only said all credible theories should be investigated by the World Health Organization and international experts. A spokeswoman for the National Security Council said, “we continue to have serious questions about the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, including its origins within the People’s Republic of China.”
“We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2…As a matter of policy we never comment on intelligence issues” the spokeswoman added.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Current and former officials familiar with the intelligence about the lab researchers expressed differing views about the strength of the supporting evidence for the assessment. One person said that it was provided by an international partner and was potentially significant but still in need of further investigation and additional corroboration.
Another person described the intelligence as stronger. “The information that we had coming from the various sources was of exquisite quality. It was very precise. What it didn’t tell you was exactly why they got sick,” he said, referring to the researchers.
November 2019 is roughly when many epidemiologists and virologists believe SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the pandemic, first began circulating around the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where Beijing says that the first confirmed case was a man who fell ill on Dec. 8, 2019.
The Wuhan Institute hasn’t shared raw data, safety logs and lab records on its extensive work with coronaviruses in bats, which many consider the most likely source of the virus.