Mike Pompeo Photograph:( Reuters )
A US State Department fact sheet released by the Trump administration in January said the researchers had become sick in autumn 2019 and displayed "symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness."
Every piece of evidence points to a leak of coronavirus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), said US former state secretary Mike Pompeo, adding that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must be held "accountable".
Pompeo`s remarks come after a US media reported three Wuhan lab staff sought hospitalisation after they fell ill in November 2019, weeks before China reported the first patient with COVID-19-like symptoms.
He claimed that the CCP has "done everything" to cover up and deflect blame.
"The CCP was actively engaged in viral research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Every piece of evidence points to a leak from this laboratory. The CCP has done everything to cover up and deflect blame, even blaming the U.S. Prove it. They must be held accountable," he tweeted.
A US State Department fact sheet released by the Trump administration in January said the researchers had become sick in autumn 2019 and displayed "symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness."China reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) that the first patient with Covid-like symptoms was recorded in Wuhan on December 8, 2019.
"The US government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses," the report read.
Recently, Anthony Fauci, a top adviser to US President Joe Biden on the coronavirus pandemic said he`s "not convinced" the deadly virus developed naturally and has called for further investigations into where it emerged. Fauci was asked during a Poynter event, "United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking," earlier this month about whether he was confident that Covid-19 developed naturally, Fox News reported.
"No actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said.
"Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that`s the reason why I said I`m perfectly in favour of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus," he added.
Last month, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken launched a scathing attack against China for a lack of transparency during "the early stages" of the coronavirus pandemic and called for a more thorough investigation into the origins of Covid-19. Blinken`s remarks came following the publishing of a joint inquiry by the World Health Organization and China in March.
The inquiry did not conclusively establish how or when the virus began spreading and did little to address Western concerns that the Chinese Communist Party bent the investigation to its advantage.
The WHO report determined that the possibility the virus came from a lab was "extremely unlikely," noting there was "no record" any lab had closely related viruses.
The probe was criticised by the US, UK, and other governments over its limited access to "complete, original data and samples". The organization was also accused of being overly deferential to China throughout the study, which was co-authored by 17 Chinese scientists -- several of them from state-run institutions.