Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted on Tuesday that the United States government does not know where the novel coronavirus started.
Murphy was sharing a story from the Washington Post about him and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) sending a letter and demanding answers from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about 2018 diplomatic cables that warned about low security at Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the country's first Biosafety Level-4 lab.
We don't know where the virus started. But Trump was warned that the Wuhan lab had security issues. And instead of following up, he pulled most of our health staff out of China. @SenMarkey and I sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo today asking questions.https://t.co/5XuTIeT5l2— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 28, 2020
This has lent credence to the theory COVID-19 escaped from the WIV. In their letter, Murphy and Markey appeared to place blame on President Trump's administration if such warnings were ignored:
"We understand that as early as January 2018 Department officials issued warnings about the WIV, including the serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians needed to safely manage research on potentially deadly zoonotic coronaviruses. While the exact origin of the 2019 novel coronavirus has not yet been determined and there is no evidence linking the virus to the WIV, it is important to understand how the administration responded to these warnings. This is not academic: unless we fully understand what happened we will be unable to effectively act and lead the world to prevent the next global pandemic.
"We understand that in the first months of 2018, senior officials from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan led multiple delegations to the WIV. In a series of reporting cables sent to the Secretary of State, the delegation warned about severe safety and management weaknesses at the lab. They explained that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses with potential for human transmission was made even more dangerous by these shortcomings. The cable reportedly provided recommendations for increased U.S. engagement and technical assistance."
"It would be irresponsible for such dire warnings not to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there is no publicly available evidence that the administration gave these warnings the attention they merited. Instead, throughout 2018 and 2019 the Administration dramatically rolled back public health engagement in China," the letter continued.
Murphy and Markey asked Pompeo for to "transmit any cables concerning the WIV to Congress and provide an immediate and complete accounting of the administration’s response to these cables."
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