An “element” of the U.S. intelligence community believes the coronavirus entered the human population due to a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to a declassified summary of a 90-day review of the pandemic’s origins released Friday.
However, the 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community were unable to come to a definitive conclusion as to the origins of the virus.
The review was ordered by President Joe Biden in May.
Some in the intelligence community believe the virus began naturally, while others pin blame on the Wuhan lab, which prior to the pandemic was conducting experiments on bat-based coronaviruses to make them even more contagious.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement in April 2020 that the intelligence community was split between the same two origin theories.
Analysts with the unidentified “element” of the intelligence community that determined with “moderate confidence” that the virus could have accidentally leaked from the Wuhan lab emphasized the “inherently risky nature of work on coronaviruses.”
Four other “elements” of the intelligence community, as well as the National Intelligence Council, asserted with “low confidence” that the first human case of COVID-19 was caused by natural spillover from an infected animal.
Despite disagreement on the exact cause of the pandemic, the intelligence community did come to a “broad agreement” that the virus was not a Chinese-manufactured bioweapon.
And all but two agencies assessed with “low confidence” that the virus was not genetically engineered.
The intelligence community said it is unlikely to come to a more definitive conclusion on the origins of the pandemic due to China’s unwillingness to allow a thorough investigation.
“These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead as well as its frustration the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China,” the report stated.
Biden pressured China to cooperate with international investigative efforts in a statement following the report’s release.
“Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it,” Biden said.
“We must have a full and transparent accounting of this global tragedy,” he added. “Nothing less is acceptable.”
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