The Wuhan Institute for Virology has admitted to having three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site. However, China claimed that COVID-19 did not originate from the country's first biosafety level 4 laboratory.
Wang Yanyi, the director of the Wuhan Institute for Virology, gave an interview on Saturday about the possibility of the novel coronavirus originating from the Chinese lab.
"Now we have three strains of live viruses… But their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8%," Wang told state broadcaster CGTN. "It's an obvious difference."
Wang said the Wuhan lab "isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats" since 2004, Agence France-Presse reported.
Wang said that the idea the Wuhan lab is the origin of COVID-19 is "pure fabrication."
Professor Shi Zhengli is a virologist who is often called China's "bat woman" by her colleagues because of her "virus-hunting expeditions in bat caves over the past 16 years," according to Scientific American. Shi, who has been researching bat coronaviruses since 2004 and is the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said the genetic sequence of COVID-19 didn't match any of the lab samples she had previously studied in Wuhan.
President Donald Trump has said that he has a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of the coronavirus.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. government has "enormous evidence" proving COVID-19 originated in a laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A Fox News report claimed COVID-19 spread as a result of China's efforts to challenge the United States in the ability to identify and combat viruses.
Another Fox News report stated that there is "agreement" among the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies "that COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan lab."
One report alleges that the Wuhan lab was the source of the novel coronavirus because the facility posted a job opening in November seeking scientists to come "research the relationship between the coronavirus and bats."
There is also reports that the wet market, which China claims is the origin of the novel coronavirus, did not sell horseshoe bats, which is believed to be the animal that infected humans.
There are currently nearly 5.5 million confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the world, and over 345,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide.