Wuhan lab staff sought hospital care before Covid-19 pandemic disclosed, says WSJ

WASHINGTON: The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing a previously undisclosed US intelligence report, that three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology(WIV) had pursued hospital care in November 2019, months before China revealed the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report, which gives new specifics on the number of researchers affected, timings of their illnesses, and visits to the hospital, may add value to calls for a deep inquiry of whether the Covid-19 virus could have eluded from the laboratory, the newspaper stated.

The report came ahead of a meeting by the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, which is expected to talk over the next phase of an investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

A spokeswoman of the National Security Council had no remark on the Journal’s report but said that the Biden administration had continuous intense questions about the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic, including its origins among the Peoples Republic of China.

She said the US government was functioning with the WHO and other state members to assist an expert-driven interpretation of the origin of pandemics, free from hindrance or politicization.

The spokeswoman added they would not make announcements that anticipate an ongoing WHO study into the roots of SARS-CoV-2, but it has been clear that international experts should accurately assess sound and technically reliable theories.

The Journal stated present and former officials familiar with the lab researcher’s intelligence indicated a range of views about the report’s supporting evidence intensity, with one not known person saying it needed further investigation and additional authentication.

In March, the US, Norway, Canada, Britain, and other countries showed concerns about the WHO-led Covid-19 origins study. They urged for further investigation and full access to all relevant human, animal, and other data about the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to a source familiar with the effort, Washington is keen to ensure greater cooperation and transparency by China.

On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not promptly answer a request for comment.

Later China’s foreign ministry, noted that a WHO-led team had decided that a lab leak was so absurd after a visit in February to the virology institute. “The US continues to hype the lab leak theory,” “Is it concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?” the ministry said in response to a request for comment by the Journal.

The Trump administration had said it doubted the virus might have escaped from a Chinese lab, which Beijing denies.

During the end of the Trump administration, a State Department fact sheet was released and said, the US government has rationale to believe that many researchers inside the WIV became sick in 2019 autumn, before the first identified case of the pandemic, with symptoms persistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses. However, it did not say how many researchers.

According to one of the team’s investigators, China refused to give raw data on early Covid-19 cases to the WHO-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began.

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