Donald Trump has confirmed he has seen evidence the killer coronavirus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. US intelligence officials have been investigating exactly how the virus began – which has infected more than 3.3 million people globally and killed more than 230,000 others.
Mr Trump made the allegations during a White House press conference on Thursday but refused to be drawn on the evidence he has seen.
The US President said: “We are looking at exactly where it came from, who it came from, how it happened, separately and also scientifically, so we are going to be able to find it.”
Mr Trump was then asked: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”
Mr Trump said: “Yes, yes I have.”
When pressed on his comments, the US President declined to give any further details, he said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
The Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegations, and other US officials have downplayed the claims.
The coronavirus outbreak is widely believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan and was first reported to the World Health Organisation in December 2019.
The US President has always pointed blame towards Beijing and has repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus”.
Meanwhile US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo distanced China from any blame from the coronavirus crisis at this stage.
He said: “We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“We don’t know if it emanated from the wet market or yet some other place.
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“We don’t know those answers.”
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the US more than any other country on Earth both in the number of fatalities but also economically.
In the US number of confirmed coronavirus infections has soared past one million and more than 62,000 citizens have died.
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The latest comments by Mr Trump is set to further strain relations between the world’s two largest economies – earlier this week the US President accused China of meddling in the upcoming US elections – a claim Beijing denies.
Mr Trump claimed China would try to prevent him from getting re-elected when he goes up against expected Democrat nominee and former vice-president Joe Biden.
Mr Trump said: “China will do anything they can to have me lose this race.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “The US presidential election is an internal affair, we have no interest in interfering in it.”