Trump blasts COVID lab-leak detractors, says China must pay

​Former President Donald Trump is blasting early detractors of the “lab-leak theory” ​in a new interview, pointing out he “called it a long time ago” that the coronavirus may have escaped from the virology lab in Wuhan — adding, “we have to make China pay.”

“​I said it a long time ago​,​ right from the beginning​. And when you look at Wu​han and that’s where it all started​,​ and then you look at the ​Wuhan lab and that’s what they were doing​,​ it seemed pretty obvious to me​.​ I called it a long time ago​,” Trump said in an interview Wednesday on Fox Nation.

Trump ​was criticized by the World Health Organization and Democrats — who called his suggestion “xenophobic” — in the early days of the pandemic when he insinuated the deadly disease began with a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

But the theory gained new traction last month when a report revealed that workers at the lab were hospitalized in November 2019 after falling ill with COVID-like symptoms. 

The first reports of coronavirus cases in China surfaced a month later. ​

The Wuhan Institute of Virology located in Wuhan, China.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology located in Wuhan, China.

“The Democrats fought it all the way – I don’t know why, it doesn’t make them look better or worse if it was Wuhan or someplace else, but they fought it,” he said.

Trump said he is a “little surprised” that the lab has come under new scrutiny “because it seemed to be fading and now it’s the biggest subject there is in America today and probably throughout the world because tremendous harm and damage was inflicted on the world, not just this country.”

The former president added that “we have to get to the bottom of it.”

President Biden in May ordered the US intelligence community to carry out a 90-day reassessment into whether the Wuhan lab released the coronavirus after an earlier investigation was inconclusive. 

The two dominant theories are that COVID emerged naturally from animals and was passed to humans or that it escaped from the lab — either by accident or intentionally released. 

Researchers working in a lab in the Wuhan Institute of Virology on February 23, 2017.
Researchers working in a lab in the Wuhan Institute of Virology on February 23, 2017.
FeatureChina via AP Images

Trump was asked in the interview why his early warnings about the lab were dismissed. 

“They love to cancel out certain people. I guess I’d be at the top of the list,” he said of his critics.

“But certainly when I mentioned Wuhan, they tried to play it down and then they try to take credit for it later. But they’re not taking credit, they’re looking very bad because it should have been done really a long time ago,” he said. 

Despite the new efforts to determine the role the lab played, Trump seemed skeptical that an investigation will be conclusive because “China has now probably gotten rid of a lot of the evidence.”

He also called out the World Health Organization for abdicating its responsibility to gather early evidence from the Chinese Communist Party relating to the virus’ origins.

“They’ve become a spokesman for China,” he said of the WHO. “They never looked where they should have looked and when they should have looked because initially was the time to catch whatever it may have been, in terms of the evidence to get.”

One way or another, Trump said China must be held accountable.

“Ideally we have to make China pay. Something has to happen. What they’ve done is a terrible thing. I do believe it was probably accidental. But there are those that say maybe it wasn’t,” the former president said. 

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