Corona Virus: A British project to track outbreaks of the virus with its genetic code

The UK believes it's highly likely the strain of coronavirus behind the worldwide pandemic first passed from animals to humans naturally unconnected to a laboratory, Sky News understands.

The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 - the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19 - may need leaked accidentally from a Chinese laboratory can't be disproved, but it's considered unlikely, consistent with informed Whitehall sources.

The UK position contrasts with a claim by US President Donald Trump, who said he had seen evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the pandemic.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went further, alleging there was a big amount of evidence to support this theory.

The US administration has heaped blame on China for the pandemic during a standoff that has made the question about the origin of the virus political political.

A statement released by US spy agencies last week was more balanced when considering whether the virus first infected humans naturally from an interaction with an animal or whether transmission happened accidentally during a laboratory.

However, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all US intelligence and security agencies, did not place weight on either theory, in contrast with the united kingdom.

The Intelligence Community "will still rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to work out whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it had been the results of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan," its statement said.

Neither the US nor the united kingdom believe that the virus was man-made.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed any suggestion it had been the origin of the pandemic.

Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the united kingdom, also rejected President Trump's claims as "disinformation".

The UK position on the origin of the novel coronavirus is more in line with Australia's - a fellow member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community along side the us, Canada and New Zealand.

Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, has said the foremost likely scenario is that it started at a wildlife wet market within the city of Wuhan. He's leading involves a world investigation into what happened.

The UK believes that the precise location where the primary animal to human transmission happened might never be known.

In Washington on Tuesday, the highest US general said the origin of the virus remained a mystery.

"Did it begin of the virology lab in Wuhan? Did it occur during a wet market there in Wuhan? Did it occur somewhere else? And therefore the answer thereto is: we do not know," General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Staff, told a press conference.
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