Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that American intelligence has collected "enormous evidence" that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan. The disease first made headlines in December and early January, and has since spread across the globe to infect 3.45 million people and claim the lives of over 244,000.
Pompeo made the claims during an interview on ABC'sThis Week. During the segment, journalist Martha Raddatz asked the secretary of state about the recent claims that the virus could have been genetically modified in a laboratory.
"There's enormous evidence that that's where this began," Pompeo replied.
"We've said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. We took a lot of grief for that from the outset. But I think the whole world can see now," he continued.
"Remember, China has... a history of running substandard laboratories. These are not the first times that we've had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.""And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work... I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan," he concluded.
When Raddatz asked whether Pompeo believed that the virus was man-made, he replied in the affirmative.
However, Pompeo appeared to backtrack slightly immediately afterward, saying that he also "agreed" with a statement released earlier this week by the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which claimed it did not believe that the virus was man-made.
When Raddatz asked for his final say on the matter, Pompeo said that he believed the "intelligence community," though did not specify if that specifically meant the DNI.
Initial reports on COVID-19 suggested that the coronavirus had potentially come from an animal, such as a bat, sold at one of the many wet markets in Wuhan.
However, rumors were circulating by February that the virus may have actually originated in a laboratory located mere yards from the wet market, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.
The whispers were based on the fact that the type of bat believed to be the source of the virus -- named a horseshoe bat -- is not native to Wuhan, but rather to a region in China located 600 miles away. The horseshoe bat was one of the animals tested on in the Wuhan lab.
In addition, there had been reports of the bats attacking the scientists in the lab, and even drawing blood.
China has vehemently denied all claims that it created the coronavirus, and has even suggested that a U.S. military member brought the virus to the country.