Know enough to be confident COVID-19 emerged out of Wuhan lab: Pompeo

Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 7 (PTI) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the Trump administration knows enough to be confident that the deadly coronavirus emerged from a laboratory in China's Wuhan.

'I cannot say much about the intelligence we have collected with respect to this. But we know enough now to be confident of this,' he said in an interview to Fox News.

Pompeo said he has seen evidence that this likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

'Happy to see other evidence that disproves that. We should get to the bottom of it. That is why we have been asking for months now to give Westerners access to this information,' he added.

More than 70,000 Americans have died due to coronavirus and over 12 lakh tested positive for COVID-19.

'What has taken place here did not have to be. We know this virus came from Wuhan, China. We know that the Chinese knew about this at least by December and did not act fast enough, that the World Health Organization, at the behest of the Chinese, failed to declare this a pandemic in a timely fashion,' Pompeo alleged.

'These are the kind of things that caused this problem. And I must say, even today, as I sit here, as we do this interview, we still do not have the information we need. We still continue to implore the Chinese government to turn over the samples to allow Westerners in to look at these labs,' he said.

'We still need information not only to work on this particular crisis, but to do everything we can to take down the risk that something like this could happen again,' Pompeo said.

The international community, he said, saw what China did to the American journalist that they kicked out.

'We saw what they did to some of the doctors who early on raised the flag and said, hey, we have got a problem. We saw that they just wandered off not to be seen again,' he said.

'We have seen this kind of behaviour. This kind of activity, it is what authoritarian regimes just like the Chinese Communist Party do. They hide, they dissemble, they then propagate disinformation propaganda that we saw when they tried to pin it on the United States. It seems like forever ago, but just a few weeks back,' the top American diplomat said.

'Those are the kind of things that regimes like this do. It is why democracies flourish and authoritarian regimes treat their own people -- there were thousands of lives lost in China too -- treat their own people with such little regard for life,' he said.

On the World Health Organization (WHO), Pompeo said they are trying to evaluate what is the best path forward.

'Allowing the WHO to fail again is unacceptable. To put hundreds of millions of American dollars to the WHO if it is not going to deliver on the outcomes is unacceptable,' he said.

The United States, he said, is determined to find a good way so that they can be the leader in global health policy and that has saved lives all across the world.

'It saved American lives when we do it well and President Trump has demanded that we do that in this situation as well,' Pompeo said.

'The WHO simply did not accomplish what its intended mission was and as the president says about organisations that are multilateral in nature, if they work, fine, if they do not, we are simply not going to be a part of it,' he said. PTI LKJ RC