Outside of knowing Wuhan coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, United States intelligence agencies are still working on nailing down exactly where in the city the virus came from. There's been speculation it came from an infected animal, likely a bat, that was sold and eaten at a Wuhan wet market. This theory has prompted a number of politicians in the U.S. and around the world to call for the closing of China's wet markets.
But increasingly it looks like the disease came from a bat being studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another laboratory in the vicinity. According to new information released by the State Department, there were warnings as early as 2018 that the Institute was not following proper safety protocols while handling horseshoe bats that actively carry the disease.
From Josh Rogin:
Two years before the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the world, U.S. Embassy officials visited a Chinese research facility in the city of Wuhan several times and sent two official warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats. The cables have fueled discussions inside the U.S. government about whether this or another Wuhan lab was the source of the virus — even though conclusive proof has yet to emerge.
What the U.S. officials learned during their visits concerned them so much that they dispatched two diplomatic cables categorized as Sensitive But Unclassified back to Washington. The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help. The first cable, which I obtained, also warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.
The theory that the virus escaped from a lab is one Republican Senator Tom Cotton has been following since the beginning.
Since the start of this outbreak, I’ve maintained that animal-to-human transmission or a “good science, bad safety” accidental breach in a lab studying coronavirus—like the one in Wuhan—are the most likely origin scenarios. Too bad he couldn’t be bothered to ask. pic.twitter.com/IVOYKWThtk— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 8, 2020
Two less likely options—which we couldn’t discount because the Chinese Communist Party *still* has never revealed the virus’s origins—were the bioweapon hypotheses, with either and accidental or purposeful release. pic.twitter.com/sI5NVekNre— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 8, 2020