Pompeo admits he is 'not certain' Covid-19 originated in Wuhan laboratory

6 May 2020, 22:55

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has admitted the United States is "not certain" that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan laboratory, despite his previous claims there was "significant evidence" to support the theory.

Trump's senior official said on Wednesday that Beijing "could have prevented deaths of hundreds of thousands of people" by being more transparent.

It is one of a series of criticism Pompeo has made against China since the start of the pandemic.

It comes after he said on Sunday that there is "significant evidence" Covid-19 came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

However, when pressed on these comments during a news conference, Pompeo admitted that the US government does not have "solid proof" of the theory.

"We don't have certainty," he said.

"And there is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory. Those statements can both be true. I've made them both. Administration officials have made them. They're all true."

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. Picture: PA

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At the weekend, Pompeo said: "I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan."

He did not reveal what evidence it was that supported his claim.

Pompeo then added: "The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.”

The news comes after President Donald Trump was criticised by UK experts for claiming the viral outbreak originated in the lab.

British scientists called the US President's remarks "unhelpful" as they risk undermining the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Trump said he has seen evidence which makes him “confident” that Covid-19 came from a laboratory in Wuhan and that its release was a "mistake".

His remarks sparked an outcry from UK academics who dismissed the US leader's claims as "debunked conspiracy theories."

Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton, said on Friday: "We have good evidence from the genomics research that the virus is not man-made, and the scientific world has very much moved on from this idea.

"It is unhelpful for high-profile individuals to repeat the debunked conspiracy theories, as it undermines the public health response."