A senior Chinese government official confirmed Friday that authorities ordered laboratories to destroy samples of coronavirus in early January.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had accused Chinese officials of ordering the samples’ destruction as part of the regime’s cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in its early stages.
Pompeo said on April 22 that China “censored those who tried to warn the world, it ordered a halt to testing of new samples, and it destroyed existing samples.” He offered more specificity on May 6, stating that China’s National Health Commission [NHC] ordered virus samples destroyed on Jan. 3.
NHC official Liu Dengfeng conceded at a briefing on Friday that the agency had ordered the labs to destroy the samples, but said that the order was given for safety reasons.
“If the laboratory conditions cannot meet the requirements for the safe preservation of samples, the samples should be destroyed on the spot or transferred to a professional institution for safekeeping,” Dengfend said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Based on comprehensive research and expert opinion, we decided to temporarily manage the pathogen causing the pneumonia as Class II — highly pathogenic — and imposed biosafety requirements on sample collection, transport and experimental activities, as well as destroying the samples,” Dengfeng said, according to the South China Morning Post.
The majority view among the U.S. intelligence community agencies is that COVID-19 is a naturally occurring virus that accidentally leaked out of a laboratory in Wuhan, China, a senior intelligence official previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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