Health and Science

U.S. should dig deeper into theory that Covid originated in a Wuhan lab, ex-Clinton official says

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Key Points
  • Atlantic Council senior fellow Jamie Metzl organized last year a group of scientists and academics to call for a deeper investigation into Covid's origins.
  • He told host Shepard Smith that it's "critically important" to find answers about the pandemic's origins because if we don't, it puts everyone "unnecessarily at risk." 
VIDEO3:0903:09
Atlantic Council senior fellow says it's 'likely' Covid-19 came from Wuhan lab

The U.S. should be playing a larger role in getting to the bottom of the theory that Covid-19 first leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan, China, Atlantic Council senior fellow Jamie Metzl told CNBC on Monday.

"Right now, the World Health Assembly is meeting, and the United States should be doing everything possible with our allies to demand a comprehensive investigation into Covid origins with full access to all the records, samples, and personnel in China and beyond," Metzl, a former national security official in the Clinton administration, said on "The News with Shepard Smith." 

"If China wants to thumb its nose at the rest of the world, in spite of more than 3 million people dead, let them make that statement," he said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that determining the origins of Covid-19 is up to an international investigation led by the World Health Organization, and that the U.S. cannot lead a probe on its own.

Metzl organized last year a group of scientists and academics to call for a deeper investigation into Covid's origins. He told host Shepard Smith that it's "critically important" to find answers about the pandemic's origins because if we don't, it puts everyone "unnecessarily at risk." 

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. 

A previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report found that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care after falling ill "with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness," The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, quoting from the report.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly said the virus most likely jumped from bats to humans through another animal. It has described the theory that the virus leaked from a lab as "extremely unlikely," but has not ruled it out. Metzl said he thinks the theory is a "likely hypothesis." 

"Why would you have a bat coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and not in southern China, where the horseshoe bats are located? And what we know that they do have in Wuhan, is China's only level 4 virology institute, with the world's largest collection of bat coronaviruses, that was doing aggressive research designed to make those pathogens more dangerous," Metzl said.

VIDEO2:0002:00
Questions over whether Covid-19 originated from lab fuels debate