New evidence showing that the coronavirus may have started from laboratory in Wuhan was discovered by the U.S. State Department. The information has indicated that the researchers of the Chinese laboratory might have been infected with COVID-19 before the first reported case of the outbreak.
In the new report released by the State Department, the U.S. government shows that coronavirus infection may have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), believing that some WIV researchers became infected in autumn of 2019 and have suffered "symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses".
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first cases of the disease were originally reported from Wuhan City in China on 31 Dec. 2019. China's Wuhan Municipal Health Commission confirmed that it has detected a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause in the city, later identified as novel coronavirus. The first COVID-19 fatality was reported on 11 Jan. 2020.
A wet market in Wuhan, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, is said to be the origin of the virus as claimed by China, The Blaze reported.
In May 2020, WIV's director Wang Yanyi has admitted that the laboratory has three live strains of bat coronavirus but denied that WIV is a probable source of COVID-19. Professor Shi Zhengli, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at WIV, has further stated that the genetic sequence of SARs-CoV-2 did not match any of the laboratory samples she had previously studied in Wuhan.
Ms. Zhengli has said in the past that none of the laboratory's students and staffers were infected but the new evidence of infected laboratory staff gathered by the State Department "raises questions about the credibility" of her claims of "zero infection" of WIV staffers.
The State Department's report states that since 2016, "WIV researchers conducted experiments involving RaTG13, threat coronavirus identified by the WIV in Jan. 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar)". It also says that the institute became the center for international coronavirus research after the SARS outbreak in 2003 and has since studied animals such as bats, pangolins and mice.
The State Department claims that WIV were conducting "secret projects with China's military", adding that it has engaged in classified research and laboratory animal experiments since at least 2017 for the Chinese military.
According to the U.S. government, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has prevented investigators, independent journalists, and global health authorities from interviewing WIV researchers and individuals identified to have infected with the disease in the fall of 2019. The report says that the institute has not been consistent about its record on studying viruses relative to COVID-19 virus.
Further, it has cited China's previous cases of virus outbreaks which includes the 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing.
The department acknowledges that it has no definite information about the origin of COVID-19's initial human transmission. They have yet to determine whether the outbreak started through contact with infected animals or was the result of a laboratory accident in WIV.
This week, WHO has sent a group to Wuhan to determine how the coronavirus pandemic began. The CCP has finally allowed the research team to investigate the COVID-19 origin more than a year after the outbreak.