WHO Says No Proof from US on 'Speculative' Claims about Covid-19 Originating from Wuhan Lab
File photo of World Health Organisation(WHO) building in Geneva. (Reuters)
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that Washington had provided no evidence to support "speculative" claims by the US president that the new coronavirus originated in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
"We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus, so from our perspective this remains speculative," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual briefing.
The theory has been heavily pushed by the Donald Trump administration, which has been increasingly critical of China's handling of the outbreak that first emerged in Wuhan late last year.
Since then, the virus has killed more than 247,000 people and 3.5 million have been infected worldwide.
China and the US have repeatedly traded barbs over the virus' origins in an escalating war of words after the Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian in March pushed the conspiracy theory that the US military may have brought the virus to China.
Since then, the two superpowers have accused each other of spreading misinformation as Trump has also attacked China over its alleged lack of transparency.
Trump last week claimed to have proof the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source, appearing to echo speculation fuelled by US right-wing radio commentators about a secret lab.
US news reports say Trump has tasked US spies to find out more about the origins of the virus, as he makes China's handling of the pandemic a centrepiece of his campaign for the November presidential election.
Most scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans after emerging in China, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.