Wuhan lab staff 'sought hospital care before Covid outbreak disclosed'

Wuhan lab staff 'sought hospital care before Covid outbreak disclosed'

Carlson's comments come after a previously undisclosed USA intelligence report revealed that three staffers at a Wuhan virology lab became sick with Covid-like symptoms weeks before China disclosed the virus outbreak to the world.

A State Department fact sheet released near the end of the Trump administration said "the U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses".

When asked about the report of infected lab workers, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the White House was conducting an "expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic's origins that is free from interference or politicization". "And that's exactly what we've been calling for".

USA officials say that unless China allows more access to records and people, they may never get to the bottom of it.

The origin of the virus is hotly contested.

"Many of us feel that it is more likely that this is a natural occurrence, as has happened before", Fauci told reporters Tuesday.

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. Intelligence reporting about possible November infections among Wuhan Institute employees "can't be dismissed" by US researchers, the source added.

The hypothesis that the virus escaped from a Chinese lab has been promoted on some conservative websites, and by some Republicans in the U.S. Congress. U.S. intelligence agencies have not reached their own determination on the cause.

In February, NBC News reported that the US intelligence agencies had not ruled out the possibility of a lab accident, noting that a growing number of scientists are urging an investigation into that possibility. Trump as president referred to the pathogen as the "China virus" and the "China plague". Both were assembled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The classified report is regarded as valid by current US government agencies, experts investigating the origins of COVID-19 and by officials in President Joe Biden's administration. Crucially, the new details about the number of researchers, the timing of their illnesses, and their hospital visits come ahead of a meeting of the World Health Organization's decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into the virus origins.

"We need to get to the bottom of this and we need a completely transparent process from China, we need the WHO (World Health Organization) to assist in that matter", senior White House Covid advisor Andy Slavitt said Tuesday.

Such evidence included information indicating "several researchers" at the lab got COVID-19 symptoms in the fall of 2019, the report said.

The lab leak claims were widely dismissed past year as a fringe conspiracy theory, after then-President Donald Trump said Covid-19 had originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The WHO, which opened its annual ministerial assembly on Monday, has not announced any follow-up to the Wuhan mission but member states may raise concerns in speeches to the week-long forum.

The virus has so far infected almost 170 million people and killed almost 3.5 million worldwide.

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