US agency intelligence report blames China laboratory leak for Covid

Staff prepare to disinfect Wuhan Railway Station in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 24, 2020

The US Energy Department believes that the pandemic most likely was the result of a mishap in a Chinese laboratory, according to a classified intelligence report, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The coronavirus pandemic likely arose from a Chinese laboratory leak, the US Department of Energy now says according to media, although the White House maintained Sunday, February 26, that American intelligence remained divided on the issue. Four US intelligence agencies have said they believe Covid occurred through natural transmission.

The determination – noted in a classified report by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office, The Wall Street Journal reported – marks a shift by the Energy department, which had previously said it was undecided on how the virus emerged.

People who read the classified report were quoted in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as saying the department made its judgment with “low confidence,” highlighting how different agencies remain divided over the origins of Covid-19 and the pandemic that swept the globe in early 2020.

The conclusion, reportedly the result of new intelligence, is nevertheless significant because the department oversees a network of national laboratories, including some that do advanced biological research. The department now joins the Federal Bureau of Investigation in believing that the pandemic, which has left nearly seven million people dead, was the result of a mishap in a Chinese laboratory.

Four US intelligence agencies believe Covid occurred through natural transmission, while two others remain undecided, the Journal reported.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stressed a “variety of views” on the matter remain. “Right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question,” Sullivan told CNN.

In mid-February, the World Health Organization pledged to do everything possible “until we get the answer” on Covid’s origins, denying a report suggesting the agency had abandoned its investigation. The scientific community sees it as crucial to determine the origins of the pandemic in order to better fight or even prevent the next one.

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