US intelligence says Covid-19 isn't man made but may have escaped from Wuhan lab

US intelligence services have announced that Covid-19 is not man-made, but says officials continue to investigate whether the new coronavirus escaped from a laboratory.

In a statement released Thursday, the US Office for the Director of National Intelligence confirmed Covid-19 originated in China, and added: ‘The intelligence community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.’

The statement said that intelligence chiefs continue to work to try and establish whether the Covid-19 outbreak ‘began through contact with infected animals, of it if was the result of an accident in a laboratory in Wuhan.’ Earlier this month, President Trump refused to deny claims put to him that US intelligence officials believe Covid-19 may have begun spreading after an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

That claim centered around an unnamed female intern at the lab – which has received $3.7million of United States government funding – accidentally contaminating herself with the new coronavirus. She is then believed to have traveled to a nearby ‘wet market’, where live animals are slaughtered for food, to meet her boyfriend for a meal. That theory suggests that the virus began to spread from there, with 3.2million confirmed infections and more than 228,000 deaths across the world so far.

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In 2018, a US intelligence official who visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology sent a cable back to Washington DC warning of potentially dangerous coronavirus experiments being performed on bats – the animal coronavirus is believed to have originated it. It also poor safety procedures in place at the facility, although the US government is not believed to have followed up on that warning.

Another theory has speculated whether coronavirus originated at the wet market itself, and jumped from its animal host to a human because of poor hygiene conditions there. The Chinese government has denied claims coronavirus leaked from a lab, although its officials are widely-believed to have lied about the number of people infected and killed by the virus there.

Fox News reported that its sources believe the ‘wet market’ theory was concocted by the Chinese government to try and deflect attention from the lab accident. In March, Donald Trump outraged the Chinese government by repeatedly referring to Covid-19 as ‘the Chinese virus.’ The president claimed he used the term to hit back at Beijing officials who spread a false conspiracy theory that the killer virus was planted in China by US military saboteurs.

Coronavirus is known to have infected 1.06million Americans, and killed almost 62,000 people. Scientists across the world are working furiously on a preventative vaccine, with anti-viral drug Remdesivir announced on Wednesday as a treatment for people who already have the virus.

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