Fauci dismisses Donald Trump's coronavirus Wuhan lab claims

Top US scientist Dr Anthony Fauci has again dismissed claims that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese laboratory.

"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic magazine in an interview published on Monday.

"Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species," Fauci said.

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US President Donald Trump has claimed he has seen evidence that gives him a "high degree of confidence" that the virus began in the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology. He has not provided or detailed the evidence, however.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was "a significant amount of evidence" that the virus emerged from a Chinese laboratory. He did not dispute US intelligence agencies' conclusion that it was not man-made, however.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegation, and other US officials have downplayed the likelihood that it is true.

China has called the claims "insane".

Most experts believe the virus originated in a Wuhan market selling wildlife and jumped from animals to people.

Trump, speaking to reporters outside the White House before leaving on a trip to Arizona on Tuesday, said the US would release its report detailing the origins of the novel coronavirus over time, but gave no other details or timeline.

General Mark Milley, the top US general, separately on Tuesday said it was still not known whether the coronavirus emerged from a wet market in China, the institute of virology or some other location. Aljazeera
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