“We think it is very unlikely that it was an accident,” said a Western diplomatic official with intelligence. “It is very likely that it occurs naturally and human infections originate from natural human-animal interactions.” Countries in the coalition share the eyes of Five Eyes joining this assessment, said the official, and the second official, from the Five Eyes country, agreed with that. The US has not made a formal public judgment.
The Five Eyes Alliance consists of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – and countries sharing a variety of intelligence in one of the most stringent multilateral arrangements in the world.
Assessments from members of exclusive intelligence sharing groups appear to be damaging to strong claims by Trump and Pompeo in recent days, because they have doubled the statement that the outbreak came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than markets in the same region.
It is likely to increase pressure on the Trump administration to provide evidence to support his claim, which has failed so far despite increasingly aggressive rhetoric from the President and his top diplomats.
A third source, also from the Five Eyes state, told CNN that the level of certainty expressed by Pompeo and Trump was a way out in front of the current Five Eyes assessment site. This source acknowledges that there is still the possibility of the virus coming from the laboratory, but warns that nothing makes the theory valid.
The source added that “it’s clear the market is where the explosion is,” but how the virus got to the market remains unclear.
But without greater cooperation and transparency from China it is impossible to say with total certainty, the first official added.
A third source said there was a possibility the US did not share all of its intelligence. While an overwhelming majority is shared among Five Eyes members, there are pockets of information held by each country.
“If you look at the evolution of viruses in bats and what is out there now, (scientific evidence) is very, very leaning towards this it is not possible to be artificially or deliberately manipulated,” Fauci told the magazine, adding that he did not not believe that the virus somehow passed from the laboratory to the community.
“… Everything about gradual evolution over time strongly shows that (this virus) evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
This assessment follows repeated claims by Trump and Pompeo that there is evidence of the virus coming from the Wuhan Virology Institute.
“I can tell you that there is a large amount of evidence that this came from the laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo told ABC News on Sunday.
The US intelligence community issued a statement on Thursday saying that it was still working to “determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or whether it was the result of an accident in a laboratory in Wuhan.” The statement said that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Foreign Affairs did not respond to requests for CNN comments.
A senior official of the Office of National Intelligence Director said late Monday that the US had evidence for both theories.
“We regularly share intelligence with our partners about various threats and Covid is no different,” the senior official told CNN. “IC adheres to the statement that ODNI was released last Thursday and we underline three points: IC believes the virus began in China. We are down to two theories and have evidence on both. We agree that it doesn’t seem to have been directed.”
Earlier Monday, a nationalist tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party rejected claims by the Trump administration that the new coronavirus originated from a laboratory, when a war of words about a pandemic escalated between Washington and Beijing.
Responding to Pompeo’s comments that there was “substantial evidence” to support the theory, the Chinese state-owned Global Times newspaper said in an editorial that the former CIA director had “shocked the world with baseless accusations.”
“Because Pompeo said his claim was supported by ‘very large evidence,’ he must present this so-called evidence to the world, and especially to the American public that he is constantly trying to fool,” the editorial said.
“The truth is that Pompeo has no proof, and during Sunday’s interview he bluffed.”
CNN contacted the Chinese Foreign Ministry to comment on Pompeo’s claims, but has not yet received a response. The country is on a five-day vacation that lasts until Tuesday.
Scientists around the world condemn conspiracy theories which state that coronavirus has no natural origin, pointing to studies that suggest it comes from wildlife.
China has faced criticism at home and abroad over the handling of the virus, especially during the initial outbreak. He was accused of silencing the reporter and delaying informing the public about the severity of the crisis.
But critics accuse the Trump administration of stepping up efforts to blame China for the global spread of the virus as it faces increasing criticism at home for handling their own pandemic. To date, the US has recorded more than 1.1 million cases and at least 68,000 deaths related to Covid-19.
This story has been updated with developments from China the previous Monday, plus background and context.
to request modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]