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Mike Pompeo reveals intel that may link China lab to COVID-19 outbreak

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo late Friday revealed previously unreported intelligence that may link a lab in Wuhan, China, to the start of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Pompeo also called on the World Health Organization to fully investigate the possibility that the deadly bug accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Daily Mail reported.

“Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one,” Pompeo said.

The intelligence data claimed that researchers at the lab fell ill in the fall of 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that scientists there were working with a bat coronavirus that is 96.2 percent similar genetically to the virus that causes COVID since 2016, and that the lab has secret links to the Chinese military, according to the Daily Mail.

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Pompeo did not suggest that the virus was intentionally engineered or released, instead suggesting it escaped the lab accidentally. The State Department said the lab “has not been transparent or consistent about its record of studying viruses most similar to the COVID-19 virus.”

A person walks past the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China on January 15, 2021.
A person walks past the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China on January 15, 2021.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The call came one day after a WHO research team landed in Wuhan to seek clues to the pandemic’s origins. Pompeo said that the team should have full access to the lab and a “full accounting” of records on bat coronaviruses removed from its online database.

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“Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one,” Pompeo said.

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