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US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley speaks about the coronavirus at the White House on April 1. Photo: AP

Politico | Evidence that coronavirus originated at Chinese lab is ‘inconclusive’, top US general says

  • Washington Post report said US officials were concerned over Wuhan facility conducting research on bats
  • Joint Chiefs chair Mark Milley tells reporters ‘we’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that’

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Lara Seligman on on April 14, 2020.

The top US general said evidence that the coronavirus originated at a Chinese research lab is “inconclusive”, following a report that US officials warned of safety concerns at a research facility in the city of Wuhan two years ago.

“We've had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that,” Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley told reporters today. “At this point it's inconclusive, although the weight of the evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain.”

The comments come hours after The Washington Post reported that US officials were concerned about inadequate safety at a Wuhan lab that was conducting studies on coronavirus from bats.

According to the report, US officials who had visited the lab dispatched diplomatic cables in January 2018 back to Washington warning about safety and management weaknesses at the lab, and also that the facility's work on bat coronaviruses represented a risk of a new Sars-like pandemic.

Milley's assessment contrasts with that of Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs, who shot down the idea that the virus originated in a laboratory as part of experiments involving bioweapons.

“And if I could just be clear, there is nothing to that,” Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, said on April 6.

Bat virus? Bioweapon? What the science says about Covid-19 origins

“Someone asked me if I was worried. That is not something that I'm worried about. I think, you know, right now what we're concerned about is how do we treat people who are sick, how do we prevent people from getting sick. But no, I am not worried about this as a bioweapon.”

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