Trump orders intel to find link between COVID-19 and Wuhan lab: New York Times
US President Donald Trump, warmly welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to what the US leader likes to call the "Winter White House," the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (AFP / JIM WATSON)

Trump administration officials have ordered intelligence agencies to search for a link between the novel coronavirus and a government-run laboratory in China, according to the New York Times.

So far, there has been no direct evidence that the virus came from the Wuhan lab, and the official explanation for the origins of the disease remains that someone contracted it from eating contaminated meat they bought at a Wuhan market.

However, the Times reports that some intel analysts are worried that Trump will try to manipulate information to blame China to distract from his own administration's failings on containing the disease.

"Most intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of a link to a lab can be found, and scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a nonlaboratory setting, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS," the paper notes.

Trump has alternately blamed and praised China for its handling of the disease, as he has tried to walk a careful line between scapegoating the country while maintaining his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.