Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said COVID-19 possibly emerged in China much earlier than generally believed.
"There was enormous, albeit indirect evidence, that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the center point for this," Pompeo told Sky News Australia in an interview released Monday.
"I've seen data points that place it in the summertime of 2019, late summer, July, August of 2019."
The first official case of COVID-19 was confirmed in December 2019. Pompeo, however, said intelligence revealed that three staff at the Wuhan institute suffered COVID-like symptoms in October 2019, when the facility increased its security and proposed replacing its air conditioning system.
The institute also went into a communications blackout that October, when there was no phone reception or signals activity for two weeks, Sky News said.
All that contributed to a "cumulative weight of evidence" suggesting the virus came from the laboratory, Pompeo told Sky News.
"I've seen no evidence that there's a cluster that began any place but [Wuhan]," Pompeo said. "I'm all ears to see if any evidence that presents something, some fact set to the contrary.
"There were 14 American diplomats on the ground in Wuhan at this time who were watching and observing what was taking place inside of Wuhan. Now I hope one day that we'll be able to get that information out more broadly."
In a separate interview with Sky News Australia, former President Donald Trump repeated that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and claimed it was released due to "gross incompetence."
"Some of the intelligence is classified and I can't talk about it, but it most likely, and when I say most likely, like 95%, came from the Wuhan lab," Trump told the Australian news outlet. "I don't know if they had bad thoughts or whether it was gross incompetence, but one way or the other it came out of Wuhan, it came from the Wuhan lab.
"I started hearing stories ... that there were lots of body bags outside of the lab. I heard that a long time ago. And if they did in fact have body bags, that was one little indication wasn't it?"
Trump added that the coronavirus escaping the lab was "probably an accident, I don't think it was on purpose. If it was, that's essentially war."
Pompeo said Congress needed to review how intelligence agencies handled information during the early stages of the pandemic.
"We'll have to go back and look at what was actually in the possession, what was the complexity of that information, what was the certainty of that information," he said.
"I think we always could go back and should go back and look at how we collected and what we knew and why it was we weren't able to send the signal up the line in a way that would have led to a better outcome."
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