WASHINGTON: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that “we don’t know” where the coronavirus originated.
“Did it come out of the virology lab in Wuhan, did it occur in the wet market there in Wuhan or did it occur somewhere else? And the answer to that is we don’t know,” the top US military officer told reporters on Tuesday in a Pentagon briefing when asked about the origin of COVID-19, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Various agencies both civilian and US government are looking at that,” he added.
Milley said that the weight of evidence indicated the coronavirus was “natural and not manmade” and was “probably not intentional.”
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also noted in his Monday interview with National Geographic that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.
Asked about the possibility that the virus was found outside the lab, then brought back and escaped, Fauci said, “That means it (virus) was in the wild to begin with.”
“That’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about (and) why I don’t spend a lot of time going in on this circular argument,” he said.
The remarks of Milley and Fauci were in stark contrast to the claim made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday that “there is a significant amount of evidence” that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan.
US media reported last week that some U.S. intelligence analysts had expressed concern that senior Trump administration officials’ pressure to link the coronavirus with a Chinese lab will distort assessments about the virus and they could be used as a political weapon.
As COVID-19 deaths continue to increase in the United States, some individuals in the Trump administration have tried desperately to deflect criticisms about their blunders by blaming others.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the United States reported more than 1,194,000 COVID-19 cases with over 70,000 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.