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U.S. intelligence agencies investigating whether virus originated in Chinese lab

As more information about pandemic emerges, experts, officials try to learn more about exactly how humans got virus

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General Mark Milley on Capitol Hill
General Mark Milley on Capitol Hill
(Jim Watson / Getty Images)
Updated: April 15, 2020 - 10:17am

Army Gen. Mark Milley, the country’s most senior military officer and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the Pentagon’s initial assessments of the coronavirus indicate the pandemic appears to have been caused by a natural event.

However, Milley also said Tuesday at the Pentagon, alongside Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, that various intelligence agencies are taking “a hard look,” at whether the virus may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, as some reports suggest.

“I would just say at this point it’s inconclusive although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain,” the four-star general told reporters.

Milley's comments mark the first time a senior  U.S. government official has publicly commented on the suspicion that the novel coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese laboratory. China officials have said the virus came from a so-called "wet market in Wuhan, were shoppers buy bats and other exotic animals for consumption.