Three lab staff in Wuhan became ill and were sent to hospital weeks before China told the world a deadly new virus was rampant, a huge spy report reveals.
Never-seen-before US intelligence exposes fresh information on how many researchers were affected, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The dossier shows when they fell ill and the dates of their hospital visits in November 2019, when Chinese authorities officially found the outbreak.
It adds pressure to growing calls for a wider investigation to look into whether coronavirus could have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, where the first cases of the virus were discovered.
Top American scientist Dr Anthony Fauci has backed the calls and claimed he is "not convinced" Covid developed naturally.
The pandemic has been one of the deadliest in history and has tragically seized the lives of almost 3.5 million people.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting to talk about the next steps in an investigation into the killer illness is imminent.
Although a National Security Council spokeswoman had no comment on the Journal's report, she said the Biden administration had "serious questions about the earliest days of the pandemic, including its origins within the People's Republic of China".
She added: "We're not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2, but we've been clear that sound and technically credible theories should be thoroughly evaluated by international experts.”
The Journal went on to say a range of views had been expressed about the strength of the report's evidence from different officials.
One anonymous source said it needed "further investigation and additional corroboration".
At a fact-checking event in America yesterday, journalist Katie Sanders asked Dr Fauci: "There’s a lot of cloudiness around the origins of Covid-19 still, so I wanted to ask, are you still confident that it developed naturally?"
Get latest news headlines delivered free
Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?
We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.
Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.
You can sign up here – you won't regret it…
The virus expert said back: "No, actually. I am not convinced about that.
"I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened."
A flock of countries are still questioning the origins of the virus, and in March powerhouses including Britain, the United States, Canada and Norway expressed concerns.
They demanded full access to early data on the outbreak, including relevant information on humans and animals.
But China's foreign ministry disputed the claims and pointed to a WHO-led report which found a Chinese lab leak was "extremely unlikely".
It said: "The US continues to hype the lab leak theory. Is it actually concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?"
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Source: Read Full Article