Trump claims coronavirus came from Wuhan lab

US President Trump claims he has seen evidence that coronavirus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

US President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter at the White House on Thursday: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”

“Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” said the president, without specifying. “And I think the World Health Organization (WHO) should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”

Asked later to clarify his comment, he said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

In a rare public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on Thursday it concurs with the “wide scientific consensus” regarding COVID-19’s natural origins.

“The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the statement read.

It was the first response from US intelligence debunking conspiracy theories that the virus is a biological weapon.

Responding to Trump’s comments, the WHO has also reiterated that the coronavirus is believed to be “natural in origin”.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was founded in the 1950s, houses China’s first Biosafety Level 4 laboratory.

Such labs handle the most dangerous pathogens for which there are few available vaccines or treatments, and one of the areas the facility examines is coronaviruses from bats.

Trump has recently been escalating his war of words with China over the pandemic.

Earlier, he suggested China wanted him to lose his re-election bid in November.

He has also accused Chinese officials of covering up the virus early on and saying they could have stopped the disease from spreading.

He has similarly criticised the WHO and withdrawn US funding for the organisation.

This clip was edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed’s Mostafa Rachwani.