According to American authorities, new intelligence has led the Energy Department to determine that an unintentional laboratory leak in China most likely triggered the coronavirus outbreak, however U.S. intelligence agencies remain divided over the virus’s origins.
Some individuals briefed on the intelligence, however, said the report was rather weak, and the Energy Department’s assessment was reached with “low confidence,” implying that the level of assurance was not high. Officials added that while the department shared the material with other agencies, none of them revised their judgments.
The Energy Department’s shift is highlighted in an update to a 2021 document by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’ office, which was previously undecided on how the virus emerged.
Authorities refused to reveal the nature of the intelligence. Yet, much of the Energy Department’s insights originate from the national laboratory network it administers, rather than more traditional kinds of intelligence such as espionage networks or communications intercepts.
Congress did not request the update, which is less than five pages long. But, lawmakers, mainly Republicans in the House and Senate, are conducting their own investigations into the origins of the virus and pressing the Biden administration and the intelligence community for additional information.
Intelligence officials feel that investigating the pandemic’s origins could help improve global response to future health emergencies, but they warn that determining the source of the virus may be difficult, if not impossible, given Chinese opposition to further investigation. According to scientists, there is a responsibility to explain how a pandemic that has killed over seven million people began, and learning more about its beginnings could assist researchers understand what poses the greatest hazards of future epidemics.
In addition to the Energy Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has decided, with “moderate confidence”, that the virus initially emerged inadvertently from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese coronavirus research facility. The director of national intelligence’s office revealed in October 2021 that four other intelligence agencies and the National Intelligence Council had concluded, with “low confidence”, that the virus most likely developed through natural transmission.
According to some scientists, the present data, including virus genes, indicates to a huge food and live animal market in Wuhan as the most plausible location for the coronavirus’s emergence.
Intelligence leaders will brief Congress on global threats on March 8 and 9, as part of the yearly hearings. Haines and other top officials would most likely be questioned about the ongoing investigation into the virus’s origins.
The origins of the pandemic have become a point of contention in intelligence reporting, and recent legislative assessments have not been nonpartisan.
Several Democrats have been unconvinced by the lab leak concept, with some believing the natural causes explanation and others doubting that enough intelligence will emerge to form a conclusion. At the height of the pandemic, most media outlets debunked the lab leak theory.
But, many Republicans on Capitol Hill believe the virus originated in one of China’s research centers in Wuhan. A legislative subcommittee formed after Republicans seized control of the House in January has made investigating the lab leak scenario a priority. The first of a series of hearings is scheduled for March.
Chinese officials have consistently dubbed the lab leak notion a fraud with no scientific basis and a political motivation.
The World Health Organization stated in a March 2021 report that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus arose accidently from a lab. Yet, China appointed half of the scientists who prepared the study and exercised significant control over it. That work has been generally dismissed by American policymakers.
According to intelligence authorities, there is no proof that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was intentionally produced as a biological weapon. However, they have stated that whether it emerged organically, possibly from a market in Wuhan, or mistakenly escaped from a lab is a genuine question.
More than a million Americans have died as a result of the pandemic, which began more than three years ago.
Information for this briefing was found via The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.