France says no evidence Covid-19 linked to Wuhan research lab set up with French help
Issued on: 18/04/2020 – 10:22Modified: 18/04/2020 – 10:24
France on Friday said there was no factual evidence so far of a link between the Covid-19 outbreak and the work of the P4 research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which France helped set up and where the current pandemic started.
"We would like to make it clear that there is to this day no factual evidence corroborating recent reports in the US press linking the origins of Covid-19 and the work of the P4 laboratory of Wuhan, China," an official at President Emmanuel Macron's office said.
The broad scientific consensus holds that SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the coronavirus, originated in bats.
In 2004, France signed an agreement with China to establish a research lab on infectious diseases of biosafety level 4, the highest level, in Wuhan, according to a French decree signed by then-foreign minister Michel Barnier.
US trying to determine if virus originated in lab
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his government was trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Beijing "needs to come clean" on what they know.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that US intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, but there is no certainty either way.
The Washington Post said this week that national security officials in the Trump administration have long suspected research facilities in Wuhan to be the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
As far back as February, the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed rumours that the virus may have been artificially synthesised at one of its laboratories or perhaps escaped from such a facility.
The allegations came amid mounting international criticism of Chinas initial cover-up of the virus and suspicions that Beijing had not revealed the extent of the public health crisis due to economic concerns.