US intelligence adds to details about sickened Wuhan lab researcher, theory about COVID origins

China when first announcing the outbreak said it started when a customer purchased, ate a wild bat at an outdoor, exotic-food market.

Updated: May 24, 2021 - 1:04pm

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Three Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers became so sick in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that adds to the growing argument that COVID-19 escaped from the China lab. 

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported on the report and said its details go beyond a State Department fact sheet issued during the final days of the Trump administration.

The fact sheet states several researchers at the lab became sick in autumn 2019 "with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness," according to the newspaper.

The lab is a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens.

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China when first announcing the outbreak said it started when a customer purchased and ate a wild bat at an outdoor, exotic-food market.

President Trump and Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, have been among several leading Republican and conservative voices who have since the virus arrived in the U.S. in late-2019 to argue the virus perhaps or likely started at the lab.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Wolensky acknowledged last week the virus originating in the lab is "one possibility.”

And Dr. Anthony Fauci, considered the United States’ top infectious disease expert, said in a recent Poynter interview that he's "not convinced" the deadly virus developed naturally and has called for further investigations into where it emerged.

The disclosure about the intelligence report and its content came ahead of a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into Covid-19’s origins, The Journal Journal also reports.

The Biden administration declined to comment on the intelligence but said credible theories about the pandemic's originshould be investigated by the WHO and international experts.

A team of WHO-backed researchers has already investigated the lab, but returned from China saying they got limited cooperation and findings.

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