Donald Trump says he has seen evidence that the novel coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, but would not go into detail on the allegation.
Trump made the claim during a White House press conference on Thursday in which the president took aim at the Chinese government for the spread of the deadly virus. As Sky News reported, Trump said he is confident that the virus first came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that U.S. intelligence agencies were “looking at it very, very strongly”.
“We’re going to see where it is — we’re going to see where it comes from. There’s a lot of theories.”
Trump added that “China might even tell you.”
When pressed by a reporter on whether he had a “high degree of confidence” in the reports of the virus originating in a lab, Trump said that he did. When asked what specific evidence had given him the confidence, Trump declined to go into detail.
“I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
Other members of the Trump administration have already publicly pressed China to provide evidence that the virus did not originate in the Wuhan laboratory. Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, said in April that it was “incumbent on China to prove” that the lab was not responsible for the outbreak, via The Hill.
“If you simply do an Occam’s razor approach that the simplest explanation is probably the most likely, I think it’s incumbent on China to prove that it wasn’t that lab.”
The lab has denied any link to the outbreak of the coronavirus, though others have continued to express doubts. Trump has said in the past that China should be held responsible if evidence can prove that they were knowingly responsible for the outbreak. The president’s allies, including Rudy Giuliani, have also pushed theories about the Wuhan lab.
Trump and other top members of his administration have blamed China both for failing to contain the virus outbreak and also for what they believed was a lack of transparency about its outbreak. The country has been accused of downplaying both the number of infected and dead from the virus. China has also been accused of allegedly delaying reports on COVID-19 from international news outlets as the virus continued to spread in Wuhan and other parts of the country. Chinese officials have said the coronavirus outbreak has subsided, with a sharp drop in reported cases and deaths.