US President Donald Trump on Wednesday acknowledged Fox News report that the novel coronavirus (nCoV) may have been accidentally leaked by an intern working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
The Fox News in an exclusive report based on unnamed sources has claimed that though the virus is a naturally occurring strain among bats and not a bioweapon, but it was being studied in Wuhan laboratory. The initial transmission of the virus was bat-to-human, the news channel said, adding that the "patient zero" worked at the laboratory. The lab employee was accidentally infected before spreading the disease among the common people outside the lab in Wuhan city.
The Wuhan wet market initially identified as the place of origin, Fox News said, never sold bats. However, China blamed the wet market to deflect blame from the laboratory, the report said.
The virus was being studied in the lab as an attempt by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to "demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States," Fox News said quoting multiple sources.
At the daily White House briefing of the US President on Wednesday, Fox News reporter John Roberts while asking Trump about the claims said, "Multiple sources are telling Fox News today that the United States now has high confidence that, while the coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, it emanated from a virology lab in Wuhan, that, because of lax safety protocols, an intern was infected, who later infected her boyfriend, and then went to the wet market in Wuhan, where it then began to spread."
President Trump neither confirmed nor denied the report, but noted that "more and more we're hearing the story a" and we'll see." "We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened," the President added.
When pressed by Roberts about whether he had raised Chinese lab security in his recent call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Trump said, "I don't want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory. It's inappropriate right now."
The news channel said that China initially made efforts to cover up the outbreak. Quoting a source, the report said that this could be the "costliest government cover-up of all time." Sources also characterized the World Health Organization (WHO) as being part of a cover-up from the very beginning, the report said.
As per a recent Washington Post, two years ago, the US embassy officials in China raised concerns about the insufficient biosafety at the Chinese government's Wuhan Institute of Virology where deadly viruses and infectious diseases are studied.
Though the institute, located quite close to the Wuhan wet market, is China's first biosafety level IV lab, the US state department had warned in 2018 about "serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory"..