Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo maintained there is "significant evidence" the coronavirus escaped from a Chinese laboratory despite a recent determination to the contrary from World Health Organization investigators.
What are the details?
On Tuesday, only weeks after arriving in Wuhan to investigate, the WHO announced its findings suggest "that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population."
But in an interview with Fox News later that day, Pompeo fired back, saying he is unconvinced by the announcement and noting that former President Trump exited the WHO due to its corruption.
"I must say the reason we left the World Health Organization was because we came to believe that it was corrupt," Pompeo said. "It had been politicized. It was bending a knee to General Secretary Xi Jinping in China. I hope that's not the case here with what they've announced today."
"I'll look forward to seeing their reports and analysis, but I don't believe it's the case that they got the access they needed," he added.
"I hope they got to see all the data, all the science, into the lab, talk to the doctors, interview them in private, in places where they could actually tell the truth about what took place," he continued. "Not under the supervision of a Communist Party person sitting in the back of the room making sure that they toed the Communist Party line. I look forward to seeing their results. I continue to know that there was significant evidence that this may well have come from that laboratory."
What's the background?
A 10-member team of investigators from the WHO arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 14 to probe the origins of the coronavirus, but only after receiving approval from the Chinese government.
Shortly after their arrival, news reports began to surface indicating that the investigators were being hamstrung by Chinese authorities, who reportedly hampered their ability to gather evidence and kept them at arm's length from Chinese experts.
Leading up to the probe, a growing body of evidence indicated the most credible theory for how the coronavirus pandemic started was that the deadly pathogen escaped from a Chinese lab.
Far from new, the theory had been picking up steam since early 2020 after job postings on the Wuhan Institute of Virology's website requested that scientists come "research the relationship between the coronavirus and bats" and later indicated that something had gone wrong. Then, a pair of leaked State Department cables added weight to theory by outlining concerns U.S. diplomats had with safety protocols at the lab upon their visit in 2018.
Nevertheless, the most widely accepted theory for the coronavirus's origin continues to be that the pathogen was transmitted from animals to humans via unsanitary conditions at a Wuhan wet market, though Beijing insists the virus originated outside of China.