The U.S. Department of State has disclosed an internal cable from 2018 which includes details of the concerns raised by U.S. embassy officials in China about the lack of adequately trained personnel at a virology lab in Wuhan.
The cable sparked unproven speculation from senior U.S. officials in April this year that the Coronavirus outbreak happened due to an accident at the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Newly Released Cable Emerges as Strong Evidence
Just a few months ago U.S. President Donald Trump said that he had seen evidence which gave him a "high degree of confidence" that the deadly virus originated in a Chinese lab. Later, he also reiterated his belief that Xi Jinping's government may have "intentionally" allowed the novel Coronavirus to spread beyond its borders to damage other global economies.
The entire content of the 2018 cable was released through official channels only after The Washington Post filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the undisclosed records. The news organization sued in April when the U.S. Department of State failed to produce the records within the time period required by the law.
However, the newly released cable neither proves that the lab in Wuhan caused the virus to escape, nor excludes the possibility. As per the document, the lab, which was visited by U.S. officials in 2018 had a "serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory."
The cable, which is marked as "Sensitive But Unclassified" (SBU), also claims that the lab scientists were allowed to research on SARS-like virus derived from bats but were prevented from studying human-disease-causing SARS Coronaviruses inside the lab unless given direct permission from a designated commission.
The Lab Leak Theory
Earlier, Pompeo also said that there was "enormous" evidence to support the Coronavirus in Wuhan lab origin theory. When asked last Friday, July 17, whether he had evidence supporting the lab theory, a spokesperson offered Pompeo's Wednesday remarks -- "They have destroyed samples; they've taken journalists and doctors who were prepared to talk about this and not permitted them to do what nations that want to play on a truly global scale and global stage ought to do: be transparent and open and communicate and cooperate."
After the release of the 2018 cable, Ian Lipkin, the director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University said, "I don't see any evidence to support the idea that this [Coronavirus] was released deliberately or inadvertently. You can't just say someone is guilty of accidentally releasing a virus. You have to prove it."
Earlier, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had issued a statement that claimed that the officials were examining whether the virus started through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at the Wuhan lab.
A few months ago Nobel winning French professor Luc Montagnier claimed that the novel Coronavirus was created inside a lab and mentioned that the virus was accidentally released from WIV. Soon after his comments, a well-known Russian Professor Peter Chumakov said that the aim of Chinese scientists was to study the pathogenicity of the virus, while clarifying that it was not their intention to deliberately create a man-made killer.
Even recently, British spy agency MI6 head Richard Dearlove has claimed that the theory of novel Coronavirus emanating from Wuhan lab must not be dismissed as a conspiracy.
However, after the cable was released, the director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, Tom Inglesby claimed that the full cable does not confirm nor deny the lab origin theory and urged that people should not assume too much from what it has claimed.
He told The Washington Post that cable was from 2018 January, two years before the Coronavirus pandemic started. Meanwhile, "a great deal of change can happen within a lab like this in two years' time," he said.
"Overall, my judgment continues to be that [COVID-19] is consistent with a naturally occurring source. I'm very much hoping that Chinese public health officials will soon share the results of their scientific research," Inglesby added.