US, China clash over coronavirus origins

“We don’t have certainty, and there is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory,” Pompeo said. “Those statements can both be true.”

Pompeo said intelligence agencies and governments around the world were “trying to figure out the right answer” on the virus’ origins.

“We’re all trying to get to clarity,” he said. “There are different levels of certainty assessed at different places. That’s highly appropriate. People stare at data sets and come to different levels of confidence. Every one of us stares at this and knows the reality. The reality of this came from Wuhan.”

In the Chinese government’s first public response to Pompeo’s claims, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters: “Enormous evidence? Then show us.

“Mr Pompeo cannot present any evidence because he hasn’t gotten any. I think this matter should be handled by scientists and professionals instead of politicians.”

But the US government’s top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, has dismissed the idea, saying all the scientific evidence suggests the virus began in bats and then spread to humans.

“A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci told National Geographic.

He said the evidence was “very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated”.

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