Investigations into the origins of COVID-19 are underway, and a previously undisclosed intelligence report reveals three researchers from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology sought treatment at a hospital in November of 2019.
The Wall Street Journal reports this latest revelation could add weight to the growing chorus of countries and health organizations calling for a more extensive investigation of whether the COVID-19 virus escaped from a laboratory.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is planning its next phase of investigations into how the virus began its spread in Wuhan and throughout the world. The U.N. agency opened its annual assembly on Monday, with a draft resolution in the works that acknowledge missteps in the response to COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the chief medical advisor to the president is supporting calls for an investigation, reportedly telling a panel he's not convinced the virus developed naturally.
Current and former intelligence officials have expressed different views about the supporting evidence behind the intelligence report, according to The Wall Street Journal. One person said it was provided by an international partner, but still needed further investigation.
Another said the evidence backing the report was strong.
"The information that we had coming from the various sources was of exquisite quality. It was very precise. What it didn't tell you was exactly why they got sick," he told the Journal, referring to the hospitalized researchers.
November of 2019 is when the virus, clinically named SARS-CoV-2, first began moving around Wuhan. China's government has claimed the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was a man who became ill on Dec. 8, 2019.
As CBN News has reported, stonewalling by the communist regime in China was at the heart of the crisis. The WHO publicly praised China for its speedy response to the coronavirus in January of 2020. But behind the scenes, WHO officials were frustrated over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus.
The Associated Press found that China sat on releasing the genetic map of the virus for more than a week, and stalled for at least another two weeks on providing detailed data on patients and cases. All of this came at a time when the outbreak might have been dramatically slowed down.
CBN Producer Wes Rickards said one thing that surprised him while doing research for the CBN documentary titled Outbreak was the level of the cover-up by Chinese officials.
"Some of the decisions that were made by the communist Chinese government in early January (2020), they are frankly mind-boggling," he told CBN News. "It's a big reason why the virus spread so far so fast."
As CBN News reported last week, 18 leading scientists want a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter published in the journal Science, the team questioned the conclusions reached earlier this year by a team chosen by the World Health Organization to look into what caused the viral outbreak in Wuhan, China that so far has taken the lives of more than three million people worldwide and more than 500,000 in the U.S.
The WHO team concluded "a laboratory origin of the pandemic was extremely unlikely" and animal to human infection was "very likely."
However, the scientists' letter argues both theories should be equally weighted, saying "theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable." The letter further points out that the 313-page WHO report only devotes four pages to the lab accident theory.
Questions also remain over whether the Wuhan Institute of Virology's "gain of function" research is at the root of the pandemic. This type of research is when scientists manipulate a virus to do more than it usually does. For example, causing a virus that usually infects only animals to infect humans. This type of research can be used to develop cures and vaccines or to prepare for biological warfare.
Earlier this month, Dr. Daniel Amen, M.D. told CBN News a thorough investigation into the origin of the COVID-19 virus is very necessary.
"It's very necessary," Amen said. "If we don't do everything we can to understand the origin of the virus, what's to say it won't happen again next year or five years from now. This has affected people not only physically, but as a psychiatrist what we saw last year is depression tripled."
"We're in the middle of a mental health pandemic caused by COVID-19," the doctor noted. "And we have to be diligent in understanding where it came from so we can work to prevent further pandemics."