LONDON — There is a “significant body of judgment” that believes coronavirus “was man made,” top U.K. Minister Michael Gove said Tuesday, as he defended the way his country responded to the global pandemic.
In comments that go further than any U.K. minister has so far in questioning the origins of the virus that swept the world in 2020, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove told the U.K.’s official COVID-19 inquiry the virus’s “novel” origins complicated the state’s response.
“We were not as well prepared as we should have been ideally, that is true,” Gove admitted Tuesday. “Again, it’s in the nature of the fact that the virus was novel.”
He went on: “And indeed, though I think this probably goes beyond the remit of the inquiry, there is a significant body of judgment that believes that the virus itself was man made — and that presents its own set of challenges as well.”
Gove was promptly cut off by his questioner, the inquiry lawyer Hugo Keith, for roving from the brief of the COVID-19 hearings and into the “somewhat divisive issue” of the virus’s origins.
The origins of COVID-19 are still being investigated. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that an investigation into the source of the virus had been stalled due to difficulties in collaborating with China.
Gove’s comments take him beyond where any U.K. minister or official has publicly ventured. In May, the Department of Health and Social Care said only that there are still “questions that need to be answered”.
Elsewhere in his evidence to the inquiry, Gove apologized to Brits for “mistakes” he admitted were made by the U.K. government during the pandemic.
“I must take my share of responsibility for that,” he said.