A US intelligence report stated that several researchers at the Chinese Wuhan Institute for Virus Research contracted the disease in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized.
A memo issued by the US State Department under former President Trump last January stated that researchers contracted the disease in the fall of 2019 but did not go as far as to say that they were hospitalized.
China had informed the World Health Organization of the registration of the first patient with symptoms similar to the coronavirus in Wuhan on 8 December 2019.
The Wall Street Journal quoted informed sources saying that the current intelligence reinforces the belief that the virus most likely arose naturally from mixing between humans and animals. That does not open the possibility the virus arose due to an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute, where virus research was being conducted.
An investigation by the World Health Organization into the epidemic’s origins had concluded that the risk of a leakage accident was minimal.
“No respiratory disease compatible with symptoms of Covid-19 was reported during the months leading up to December 2019. There is no evidence of workers being infected through a serology examination of the SARS-Cove-2 virus,” the organization’s report explained.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the press: “The United States continues to promote the theory of laboratory leakage. Is it really interested in tracking the source, or is it trying to disperse attention?”
Many countries, including the United States, have criticized China for postponing the arrival of international investigators for several months after the initial outbreak of the epidemic. The Chinese government did not allow them to view the original data records, which scientists stated as necessary to understand the virus’s origin.