Trump says he's seen evidence coronavirus originated from Chinese lab
Upping his attack on Beijing on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said he had seen evidence that the coronavirus originated from a lab in China. He fell short of providing details of the evidence he had seen. Further, he threatened China with tariffs. In January both the countries had signed a partial truce, but tariffs have been levied on two-thirds of trade between them.
The havoc started in China last year
Coronavirus, that causes the COVID-19 disease, is believed to have been originated at a wet market in Wuhan. The virus attacks a host's respiratory system triggering symptoms such as fever, cough, and breathing difficulties, and in severe cases causes pneumonia, multiple organ failure, or death. From Wuhan, it spread to more than 190 countries killing 234,105 people globally. A vaccine hasn't been developed yet.
A confident Trump didn't give more details to the press
Considering the fatality rate the virus has, there are several theories doing the rounds that it could have been altered at a lab. Trump is one of the world leaders who believe this. Asserting he knows the virus came from a lab, Trump refused to divulge more details. "I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that," he said.
Trump said several people are probing the matter
"We have people looking at it very, very strongly. Scientific people, intelligence people, and others. We're going to put it all together. I think we'll have a very good answer eventually. China might even tell us," he went on. A report in NYT said the Trump administration delegated American spies to look for evidence that the virus came from a government-run lab in Wuhan.
Trump's statement contradicts US intel community's findings
However, before Trump's declaration, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement underlining that coronavirus was not generated in a lab. "The intelligence community will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan," the statement read.
Happy with China initially, Trump changed course recently
Ironically, Trump had praised China's handling of the disease earlier. But he changed directions recently, even claiming that Beijing doesn't want him to return to the office. "I just will tell you that China would like to see sleepy Joe Biden. China doesn't want to see me re-elected," he said. Meanwhile, Republicans have also been asked to aggressively attack China in their public speeches.
Trump also said WHO must be ashamed of itself
Besides China, Trump is not a fan of the World Health Organization (WHO) either. Attacking the UN body again on Thursday, he said, "I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves because they are like the public relations agency for China." His administration has launched a probe into WHO's role in COVID-19, and has also suspended funds.
Trump is looking at levying tariffs
Notably, when Trump was asked about reports suggesting he might cancel US' debt obligations to China, he said he might "do it differently". "I could do the same thing but even for more money, just putting on tariffs," he said. Much like the rest of the world, coronavirus has crippled the US' economy, with millions filing for unemployment benefits. 63,861 have died so far.Share this timeline