Wuhan lab origin of Covid-19 ‘seems to make sense’, Trump says as Dr. Fauci douses cold water on ‘man-made virus’ conspiracy

     Published Monday, April 20, 2020 @ 10:20 EST by BIAFRA TODAY
Chinese Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump

A top expert on the White House Covid-19 task force shot down the notion that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab, arguing the theory is not backed by science, as the US president continues to blame Beijing regardless.
Asked about the possibility that the lethal pathogen was “man-made” in a laboratory at Friday’s White House briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the task force, brushed the speculative theory aside, stating the coronavirus in all likelihood passed naturally from animals to humans.
"The mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now are totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human."
Fauci’s brief exchange with reporters comes as President Donald Trump is increasingly pressed for a direct answer whether the virus “emerged” from a lab in Wuhan, China. Previously stating that the White House is looking into the broader origins of the coronavirus, including the ‘lab’ theory, Trump weighed in further on Friday, saying: “We’re looking at it. A lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense.”
“They talk about a certain kind of bat, but that bat wasn’t in that area... that bat wasn’t sold in that wet zone,” the president said, casting doubt on whether the virus was passed to humans at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
"So a lot of strange things are happening, but there’s a lot of investigation going on and we’re going to find out."
 A number of recent reports have breathed life into the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus escaped from the high-security Wuhan Institute of Virology, with Fox News and the Washington Post running stories this week lending credibility to the idea through mostly anonymous government sources.
Though a number of experts have tentatively placed Covid-19’s ground zero in Wuhan, the scientific verdict is still out on the question, with one recent study led by the University of Cambridge concluding the virus may have emerged elsewhere.

“If I am pressed for an answer, I would say the original spread started more likely in southern China than in Wuhan,” Cambridge geneticist Peter Forster said, adding that concrete proof “can only come from analyzing more bats.”
As proponents of the competing theories duke it out in scientific journals and internet comment sections, the White House has stepped up a rhetorical assault on Beijing in recent weeks, with Trump repeatedly accusing the country of concealing information in the early stages of its outbreak. The president also turned his wrath to the World Health Organization (WHO), freezing the agency’s funding while claiming it abetted the Chinese “cover-up,” though he has yet to offer evidence for the allegation.

The novel coronavirus may have first passed to humans somewhere in southern China months before the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, a new study found, cutting against widely held theories about the origins of the pandemic.
Mapping a “network” of coronavirus genomes and tracing mutations over time, a team of researchers led by a Cambridge University geneticist determined the first Covid-19 infection may have come as early as September in a region south of Wuhan, noting the pathogen could have been carried by humans well before it mutated into a more lethal form.
“The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other individuals,” geneticist Peter Forster told the South China Morning Post. He leads the ongoing yet to be peer-reviewed research, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
"Then, it started infecting and spreading among humans between September 13 and December 7, generating the network we present in [the study]."

Though the virus is thought to have transmitted from bats to another host animal – pangolins are a popular candidate – and finally to humans, the new findings could overturn prevailing ideas as to precisely how, when and where it made the interspecies leap. Initial theories posited the jump to humans took place at a wet market in Wuhan, but the new study has called that into question, suggesting Covid-19 might have originated south of the central-Chinese city.

Any solid conclusions, however, could only be made after analyzing more bats and other potential host animals, as well as tissue samples from early patients, Forster cautioned.
“But it is the best assumption we can make at the moment, pending analysis of further patient samples stored in hospitals during 2019,” the researcher told Newsweek in a separate interview.
As questions swirl about the origins of the pandemic, a number of controversial theories have gained prominence recently, with several major US media outlets running stories this week suggesting the virus may have escaped a maximum-security virology lab in Wuhan. Though US President Donald Trump has yet to endorse the claim outright, he said the White House is currently looking into the idea, all the while blaming Beijing for the global health crisis. Trump has repeatedly accused the country of a “cover-up” in the early stages of its outbreak, insisting the World Health Organization conspired to help Chinese officials conceal information. 

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