BY ISABEL VAN BRUGEN February 10, 2021 Updated: February 10, 2021
A member of the World Health Organization team in Wuhan to study the origin of the pandemic hit out at U.S. intelligence on Feb. 9, hours after a State Department spokesperson said that the “jury’s still out” on whether the Chinese regime gave the team full transparency.
He added, “Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects.”
The team earlier on Tuesday said that based on their findings, it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus could have accidentally escaped from a lab. U.S. officials in the Trump administration have hypothesized that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus may have leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price later cast doubt on the transparency of the probe during a press briefing, when asked whether he believed the Chinese regime gave the WHO team full cooperation.
“I think the jury’s still out. I think clearly the Chinese, at least heretofore, have not offered the requisite transparency that we need,” Price said.
Price’s comments follow an audit by congressional Republicans in September last year that concluded the CCP and the World Health Organization are “culpable” for the spread of the virus, and the global pandemic could have likely been prevented had they acted differently.
The report by Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the CCP engaged in active cover-up efforts of information surrounding the spread of the CCP virus, and the WHO enabled the cover-up by praising the CCP and “parroting” its talking points.
The Trump administration announced plans to withdraw from the WHO in July last year, amid criticism that the international body was acting at the behest of the Chinese regime.
The former president said the WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in China’s Wuhan province that conflicted with Beijing’s accounts about the virus’s spread and “parroted and publicly endorsed” the idea that human-to-human transmission was not happening.
Biden reversed the decision to leave the WHO upon taking office.
Following the team’s findings, Embarek said that the team will focus efforts on studying the possible transmission from bats to humans and the risk of transmission through frozen foods.
“The findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population,” and therefore “not a hypothesis that we advise to suggest future studies,” Embarek told reporters during a three-hour-long press conference on Tuesday in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus first emerged.
In a comment echoing Chinese officials’ narratives, he suggested that while the Huanan Seafood Market saw one of the earliest CCP virus clusters, the virus could have come from elsewhere, including frozen meat. But he said an intermediary animal host remains “the most likely” source.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a Fox News interview on Tuesday, also questioned whether the team was given full access to investigate.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.