Dr Nick Coatsworth has called on China to help identify the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic after a US report reignited debate it could have been started in a lab.
The former deputy chief medical officer slammed Beijing for not being transparent with the international community on the source of the outbreak.
His takedown comes after the release of a classified report by the US Energy Department that claimed the virus was likely leaked from a research lab in Wuhan.
The conclusion is shared by the FBI and adds fuel to the ongoing debate on how the pandemic started with speculation the virus could have simply jumped from animals to humans before spreading around the world.
The FBI said it came to its own conclusion of a lab leak with ‘moderate confidence’ while the Energy Department said it did so with ‘low confidence’.
US officials said that although both departments are in agreement, they formed their conclusions for different reasons, and refused to reveal what intelligence was used by the Energy Department to base its conclusion on.
The Energy Department’s stance is important as the agency is known for its expertise and oversees various US laboratories, some of which carry out biological research.
The Energy Department updated its conclusion on the origin of the Covid pandemic in a classified 2021 report that was prepared by the Director of National Intelligence and provided to the white house, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
The conclusion of a lab leak is shared by the FBI while other agencies have raised the possibility the virus could have jumped from animals to humans (stock image)
Dr Coatsworth said the ‘low confidence’ from the department indicated it had no proof to back up the its claim of a lab leak and urged China to step in to help solve the mystery.
‘It is on China to tell us what actually happened, and I don’t think that we will find out in our lifetimes,’ he told the Today Show on Tuesday.
Dr Coatsworth said it was a ‘possibility’ the virus could have originated from a research lab, but the latest report provided no firm evidence.
‘I hasten to add what they are saying is they think it is most likely to have come from a lab, but they are saying that with a low degree of confidence,’ he said.
‘It means that they don’t really have the proof yet that is where it came from.’
Dr Coatsworth slammed China for its lack of transparency saying it is not the first time the Communist nation may be withholding information.
‘If it this came from a lab, then it is the second time that China hasn’t been transparent with information,’ he said.
‘SARS-CoV-1 didn’t come from a lab and we didn’t know it for a long time because the release of information was slow.’
China had been slow to report on the outbreak of SARS in 2003 with the virus spreading to America, Europe and Asia.
Dr Coatsworth said China could follow the lead of the Cambodian Government after it did not hesitate to announce this week it was dealing with an influenza outbreak.
‘That is the level of transparency we need to hope for but sadly lacking when you have two superpowers conflicting over this evidence,’ he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning accused unnamed parties of trying to smear or vilify China following the Department of Energy’s report.
‘Certain parties should stop rehashing the “lab leak” narrative, stop smearing China and stop politicizing origins-tracing,’ she said during a press briefing Monday
Dr Coatsworth’s takedown comes after the release of a classified report by the US Department of Energy that claimed the virus was likely leaked from a research lab in Wuhan
She talked up Chinese cooperation with investigating agencies, although in 2021 China rejected a World Health Organization effort to hold a second phase of its investigation.
The group has denied abandoning its inquiry amid China’s obstacles.
Four other agencies in the US are still said to favor the ‘natural spillover’ theory that the virus escaped via an animal at a nearby meat market.
Two agencies, one of which is the CIA, are yet to declare a definitive position.
The FBI also has expertise in disease and virology as it hires microbiologists and immunologists and part of its efforts to protect the country against bioterrorism and weapons.
The government officials who revealed the Energy Department’s change of stance would not comment on what new intelligence it based its conclusion on.
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that there was still ‘no definitive answer’.
‘Here’s what I can tell you. President Biden has directed, repeatedly, every element of our intelligence community to put effort and resources behind getting to the bottom of this question,’ he said.
‘If we gain any further insight or information, we will share it with Congress, and we will share it with the American people. But right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question.’