- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 19, 2021

Former President Donald Trump said Sunday that China should pay reparations for its role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Trump, a leading figure within the GOP, told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that the communist regime should be held responsible for its role in helping spread the coronavirus.

China has to pay, they have to do something,” said Mr. Trump. “They have to pay reparations and China doesn’t have the money to pay those reparations.”

The former president argued that if the worldwide damage of the coronavirus was properly estimated, China would likely owe upwards of $60 trillion.

“I believe that worldwide, I’m not just talking about the United States, but worldwide [its] $60 trillion of damage,” said Mr. Trump. “China doesn’t have $60 trillion, but they have to do something to make up for what they’ve done.”

“What they’ve done to the world is so horrible,” the former president added. “It’s been horrible all over the world and it doesn’t stop.”

The COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world economy in 2020 and is blamed for more than 5.3 million deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Chinese health officials detected the new coronavirus virus in November 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of the country’s Hubei province. Beijing officially reported the virus to the World Health Organization in December of that year.

According to global health officials, the lag gave the outbreak time to spread and severely undercut the ability to impose quarantine measures.

Although the origins of the virus are still not clear, evidence indicates a laboratory accident at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology cannot be ruled out. The theory, which once was lambasted by Democrats as “xenophobic,” has recently gained traction in the public health community.

“I think the origins are so obvious,” said Mr. Trump. “I think if anybody thinks anything differently, they’re just kidding themselves.”

In May, nearly 20 of the nation’s leading scientists published a letter in the academic journal Science calling for further investigation into the origins of the virus.

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“Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover [meaning transmitted from animals to humans] both remain viable,” the scientists wrote.

The Chinese government, for its part, denies the virus leaked from its facility in Wuhan.

A March report from a team of international virus experts failed to pinpoint the origin of the coronavirus during a visit to China. But the head of the World Health Organization, which assembled the team, criticized authorities in China for limiting access to investigators and questioned the WHO team’s dismissal of the laboratory origin theory.

“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough …,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy.”

A significant number of health professionals say the virus may have leaked through inadequate safety protocols at the Wuhan facility.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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