PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Friday there was no evidence so far of a link between the new coronavirus and the work of the P4 research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the current pandemic started.
“We would like to make it clear that there is to this day no factual evidence corroborating the information recently circulating in the United States press that establishes a link between the origins of COVID-19 and the work of the P4 laboratory of Wuhan, China,” an official at President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.
The broad scientific consensus holds that SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the coronavirus, originated in bats.
In 2004, France signed an agreement with China to establish a research lab on infectious diseases of biosafety level 4, the highest level, in Wuhan, according to a French decree signed by then-foreign minister Michel Barnier.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his government was trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Beijing “needs to come clean” on what they know.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that U.S. intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, but there is no certainty either way.
The Washington Post said this week that national security officials in the Trump administration have long suspected research facilities in Wuhan to be the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
As far back as February, the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed rumours that the virus may have been artificially synthesized at one of its laboratories or perhaps escaped from such a facility.
Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Mark Heinrich