For weeks the Australian government had been growing concerned about the Trump administration’s promotion of the theory that experiments on bats at a Wuhan laboratory had unleashed COVID-19. This week that anxiety peaked.
The belief among some Trump officials that research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was the source of the coronavirus runs counter to the broadly accepted view – that the virus originated from a wet market where live exotic animals were sold. The lab theory has not been disproved but nor has the US intelligence community provided any evidence to support it.
Senior MPs and bureaucrats worried the US campaign was hampering efforts by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to establish an independent review into the origins of the pandemic, while also undermining government attempts to ban the sale of exotic live animals at wet markets around the world.
Mr Morrison has said since April that Australia’s position was consistent.
“We know it started in Wuhan,” he said last week. “The most likely scenario that has been canvassed relates to wildlife wet markets.”