In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” program on Sunday, former Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger said that there are “very strong reasons” to believe that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was experimenting with viruses that are 96% similar to the COVID-19 strain that has now killed millions of people around the world. Pottinger expressed skepticism about the current WHO investigation into the pandemic’s origin, which he says is being carefully guided by Chinese authorities.

“When it comes to this investigation into the origins, unfortunately, we’re seeing a panel that’s been sent to China that is deeply conflicted,” Pottinger said. “It’s made up of people who have benefited from public funding to work in the very lab where this thing may have actually originated from — the Wuhan Institute of Virology. You have people who were hand selected by the Chinese government. They had a veto over who could come in. And some of those people were conflicted.

“And so you have a situation where it’s like you’re turning to the rabbits to investigate what happened to the lettuce that they were guarding,” he continued. “And so it’s not a credible exercise that we’ve seen undertaken to get to the roots of where this thing originated.”

Pottinger said that this wouldn’t be the first time that China has seen deadly viruses escape their laboratories.

“If you weigh the circumstantial evidence, the ledger on the side of an explanation that says that this resulted from some kind of human error, it far outweighs the side of the scale that says this was some natural outbreak,” he said.

“We have good reason to believe that there was an outbreak of flu-like illness among researchers working in the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the fall of 2019, but immediately before the first documented cases came to light,” he continued. “We also know that they were working on viruses, doing gain of function research study, technical sorts of experiments with viruses, including a virus that was discovered in the southwestern province of Yunnan that is most similar to the virus that we all now know as COVID. So there are a lot of leads that we put out there that I don’t see any evidence that this panel of researchers affiliated with the WHO were able to get any information on any of these questions.”

Pottinger said he was not aware of any evidence that would indicate that Chinese officials intentionally started the pandemic, but he insisted that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the overwhelming frontrunner when it came to “ground zero” suspects.

“In doing that kind of research there — it’s highly possible that that led to some kind of an accident that seeded the COVID pandemic that’s now killed more than two million of our fellow human beings,” he said.

Question is: Will we ever know for sure?