US Intel Finds Wuhan Lab Staff Were Hospitalized Just Before COVID-19 Outbreak

A Chinese official said the claims are 'groundless,' but some want the coronavirus lab-leak theory to be reconsidered.
Derya Ozdemir

Several countries have declared victory over the COVID-19 and some others are still grappling with its devastating effects; however, the year-and-a-half-long pandemic we've been experiencing still has experts arguing over its yet-to-be-known origins.

There are many theories out there, with one of the most popular is that the coronavirus was engineered by researchers and came out of a lab in Wuhan, China, be it by mistake or design.

Although a WHO investigation concluded that it's extremely unlikely the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology since no proof of the virus' evidence was detected in any labs, some scientists believe the lab-leak theory is still feasible and should be investigated further. 

U.S. intelligence officials repeated their stance at a U.S. open hearing on global threats on April 15th, stating that the lab leak hypothesis could not be ruled out and showing they wouldn't accept the WHO's prior conclusions that the coronavirus epidemic did not most likely occur in a lab.

Now, a newly reported U.S. intelligence, which appeared in the last days of the Trump administration -- that embraced and pushed the theory, has found that three Wuhan lab staff became ill with COVID-19 symptoms in November 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported citing a previously undisclosed U.S. intel report.

The fact that some lab researchers were ill before China announced the COVID-19 pandemic was already known, with some experts saying it may have been attributed to seasonal illnesses like the flu. However, the fact that WHO has said it didn't have all the necessary evidence when drawing its conclusion has caused some experts to be suspicious of the findings. 

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China, on the other hand, has repeatedly dismissed the lab-leak theories. Yuan Zhiming, the director of the institute's Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, told a Chinese state-run Global Times on Monday that The Wall Street Journal's article was "a complete lie. "Those claims are groundless," Yuan said. "The lab has not been aware of this situation, and I don't even know where such information came from."

The lab has not released raw data or documents on its work with coronaviruses in bats, according to one of the WHO team's investigators, as Reuters reported in February, which could potentially make tracing the pandemic's origin more difficult.

Still, it is "likely-to-very likely" the virus entered humans from an intermediary host species, according to the WHO. An intermediate host is yet to be found. All evidence as of now suggests COVID-19 has "a natural origin and is not a manipulated or constructed virus," but more data and the Wuhan Institute of Virology's logs and samples being made available to the public would definitely be beneficial. 

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