US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was confident that the novel virus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, a move that would likely increase tensions with Beijing.

Iran PressAmericaTrump did not mince words at a White House event on Thursday when asked if he had seen evidence that gave him a “high degree of confidence” the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as reported by Reuters.

“Yes, yes I have,” he said, declining to give specifics. “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

The Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegations, and other U.S. officials have downplayed their likelihood. Most experts believe the virus originated in a market selling wildlife in Wuhan and jumped from animals to people.

Trump has shown increasing frustration with China in recent weeks over the pandemic, which has cost tens of thousands of lives in the United States alone, sparked an economic contraction, and threatened his chances of re-election in November.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday it was not known whether the virus came from the lab.

“We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We don’t know if it emanated from the wet market or yet some other place. We don’t know those answers,” Pompeo said in an interview with Newsradio 1040. Trump also said on Thursday it was possible that China either could not stop the spread of the coronavirus or let it spread. He declined to say whether he held Chinese President Xi Jinping responsible for what he feels is misinformation about the emergence of the coronavirus.

The spread of the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, has contributed to a deepening rift between the Trump administration and China. Beijing has suggested the U.S. military might have brought the virus to China and Trump has said China failed to alert the world to the risks in a timely and transparent fashion.


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