U.S. Official: 'Leak or Accident' at Wuhan Lab Most Likely Source of COVID-19 Pandemic

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool

So much for bat soup. According to the Daily Mail, Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger told members of Parliament in the U.K. that there is a growing body of evidence that a laboratory release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the most credible source of the COVID-19 outbreak. This disclosure from a senior official indicates a hardening of the U.S. position on how the outbreak originated.


“There is a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus,” Pottinger said in a Zoom call, explaining that the virus most likely escaped the lab as the result of a “leak or an accident.”

“Even establishment figures in Beijing have openly dismissed the wet market story,” said Pottinger.

Pottinger is well respected in guiding policy toward China. He has an undergraduate degree in China Studies and speaks fluent Mandarin. He covered China for Reuters and the Wall Street Journal for seven years before joining the Marines, where he served as a military intelligence officer.

He was tapped as the Asia Director on the National Security Council beginning in 2017 and was promoted to Deputy NSA. He is credited with pushing a hardline policy towards Beijing, including encouraging the president to call COVID-19 the Wuhan virus. Last year, he took the unprecedented assignment of speaking directly to the Chinese people in a broadcast statement critical of the CCP.

According to Pottinger, the latest intelligence points to the virus escaping from the Wuhan lab located 11 miles from the wet market that was blamed originally. As late as 2015, this lab conducted experiments with chimeric viruses, which are lab-modified using parts from multiple viruses. This type of research may or may not be aimed at a gain of function, which can make a virus more infectious or transmissible.


Pottinger did not speculate that COVID-19 could have been this type of virus. However, if a laboratory leak from this facility is the most credible source for COVID-19, it is unnerving because the facility was and may continue to be engaged in modifying viruses.

The call took place in advance of a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) preparing to go to Wuhan to investigate the origins of COVID-19. Pottinger seemed to indicate concern over the validity of this investigation, telling the group, “MPs around the world have a moral role to play in exposing the WHO investigation as a Potemkin exercise.”

This mirrors concern from the Trump administration about China’s influence over the WHO. This concern led to formal notice of U.S. withdrawal from the international group in July of 2020. Pottinger asserted that even leaders in Beijing had dismissed the wet market story. This could confirm the rumors of U.S. contact with a whistleblower from the Wuhan lab.

The Daily Mail reported additional comments from Iain Duncan, an MP in attendance:

“I was told the US have an ex-scientist from the laboratory in America at the moment,’ he said. ‘That was what I heard a few weeks ago. I was led to believe this is how they have been able to stiffen up their position on how this outbreak originated.” He added that Beijing’s refusal to allow journalists to visit the laboratory only served to increase suspicion that it was ‘ground zero’ for the pandemic.

“The truth is there are people who have been in those labs who maintain that this is the case,” he said. “We don’t know what they have been doing in that laboratory. They may well have been fiddling with bat coronaviruses and looking at them and they made a mistake. I’ve spoken to various people who believe that to be the case.”


While there are theories about how the original host of the COVID-19 virus, and a possible intermediate host, could have facilitated the jump to humans, nothing has been proven to date. The Chinese Communist Party has been blocking any independent investigation, and the WHO team has already announced it will not investigate The Wuhan Institute.

Incredibly, according to Nature, the team is focusing on the Wuhan wet market where frozen animal carcasses have already been investigated to no avail. The virus was found in drains and sewage near the market, however, that was after the initial outbreak, so this is not at all surprising.

The WHO is already hinting that their search for an animal host may take them outside of China, stating, “Where an epidemic is first detected does not necessarily reflect where it started.” They could be citing the potential discovery of RNA fragments from COVID-19 in sewage samples in Spain that predated the outbreak in Wuhan. A non-peer-reviewed study made a claim, but it has not been verified.

China is very interested in placing the origin of the virus outside its borders for political reasons. Given the WHO’s outline for their investigation, they seem nearly committed to assisting in this. However, it will not change the fact that the first significant outbreak occurred in Wuhan, and both the CCP and the WHO lied about human-to-human transmission.

It is no big surprise that the WHO is looking forward to a Biden administration. As a member of the SARS WHO mission in 2003, Linfa Wang, recently said:


He hopes the situation with the new US administration will be less volatile. President-elect Joe Biden has also said he will reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the WHO. Support from China and the United States will create “a much more positive environment to conduct research in this field”, says Wang.

Positive for China, no doubt.



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