Three researchers China's Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with symptoms similar to COVID-19 in November 2019, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.
The intelligence came from an international partner, and still needs additional corroboration, confirms reporting from a State Department fact sheet issued during the final days of the Trump administration that found several researchers became sick that fall with "with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness," reported the Wall Street Journal.
"The information that we had coming from the various sources was of exquisite quality," said one person familiar with the intelligence findings. "It was very precise. What it didn't tell you was exactly why they got sick."
November 2019 is about the time when many experts believe SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the pandemic, first began circulating in Wuhan, where the first confirmed case was a man who became sick on Dec. 8, 2019.
China's foreign ministry told the Journal the U.S. government was trying to "divert attention" by hyping a "lab leak theory," and the World Health Organization will meet soon to discuss the next steps in investigating the coronavirus' origins.