Did COVID-19 come from a Chinese lab? Why a new U.S. report is renewing questions – National
Where the virus came from, a new intelligence report from the U.S. Department of Energy concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic may have reportedly stemmed from an accidental laboratory leak in China. I have renewed the question of whether it was.
However, the report, which has not been made public but has been covered by multiple US media outlets, further underscores the continuing division in US intelligence agencies and elsewhere over the origins of the pandemic. .
“There is currently no consensus in the U.S. government as to exactly how COVID started. There is no intelligence agency consensus,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
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The report’s findings differ from other intelligence agencies’ conclusions that the virus essentially jumped from animals to humans, as past coronaviruses have. This is also not definitive. These findings were also brought forward by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response to an Energy Department report.
“Certain political parties should stop remaking the story of Laborique, stop denigrating China, stop politicizing origin tracing.” Translated transcript.
Here’s what the media coverage is about the new report, why the Department of Energy is investigating the origins of COVID-19 at all, and what happens next.
what does the report say?
As The Wall Street Journal first reported Confirmed over the weekend and later by CNN, the New York Times and other news outlets, the Department of Energy’s Intelligence and Counterintelligence Service concluded with “low confidence” that the virus likely originated from a Chinese lab. rice field.
This conclusion is consistent with a persistent theory that the virus, first detected in Wuhan, China, escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a top coronavirus research facility.
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The ministry’s findings are based on new information, and officials who spoke anonymously to American media about the report declined to provide further details.
The new report doesn’t seem to say the leak of the virus from the lab was intentional, or that COVID-19 was designed as some kind of bioweapon.
Rather, officials cited in media reports concluded that the virus likely infected researchers, who spread it outside the lab.
Why is the Department of Energy investigating COVID-19?
The Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence is one of the 18 agencies that make up the U.S. Intelligence Service across the government.
In addition, beyond its responsibility for major national security concerns such as nuclear energy and nuclear energy, the agency also oversees a network of national laboratories in the country, including biological Some are doing research.
“It makes sense to have an intelligence department because it’s a serious department with serious national security responsibilities,” said Timothy Thale, a professor at the University of Toronto who studies government intelligence gathering. Stated.
“If you’re thinking about something called the ‘Laborique Hypothesis,’ then I think it makes sense that you’re talking to the head of the lab, too.”
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But the Department of Energy’s decision that the assessment was made with “low confidence” raised additional questions about what that meant.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence categorizes a “low confidence” assessment as “the information used in the analysis is insufficient, questionable, or fragmentary” or is sufficiently reliable to draw definitive conclusions. is defined as having no
Sayle said the Department of Energy may have based the report on its own laboratory analysis and “plausible” rather than hard evidence found in Wuhan.
What are other agencies saying?
The Energy Department’s conclusions are the latest after President Joe Biden ordered a government-wide investigation into the origins of the pandemic in May 2021.
A 2021 Intelligence Community Report, declassified from its review, said four agencies assessed with low confidence that the virus was most likely transmitted from animals to humans.
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But the fifth agency says it has “a certain amount of credibility” in the lab’s leak theory. No specific agency was named in the declassified report, but the Wall Street Journal and New York Times report that the agency behind the lab leak is the FBI.
The other three agencies weren’t confident in either account without more information.
In 2021, a joint study by China and the World Health Organization largely rejected the theory that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory.
But then the WHO pressured Beijing for more information, and a team of experts sent to China for the initial investigation was blocked by Chinese authorities who restricted the release of data on the possible leak of the lab. suggested that it was
China denies such accusations and claims it has always cooperated with investigations into the origins of the pandemic.
The scientific community, on the other hand, largely supports the natural origin theory. Two studies published last year by the journal Science found that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was likely the initial epicenter, and that the virus likely shed twice from animals to humans in late 2019. discovered.
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What about the political reaction?
US Republicans have long claimed that a lab leak was the likely source of COVID-19, and China covered it up with the help of pro-Beijing figures in Washington and the WHO. I am accusing you of doing so.
2021 report From Republicans on the House Foreign Relations Committee Similar report last year A Senate Republican official concluded that the accidental lab leak was “reasonable.” Both reports cite circumstantial evidence from public reports and other factors regarding activity at the Wuhan lab.
House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Michael McCall said, “I wish it had happened sooner, but I’m happy that the Department of Energy has finally reached the same conclusion I’ve already reached. ‘ said. statement on Sunday, Demand the same from the Biden administration and briefly brief Congress on the evidence in the new report.
New Republican-led Subcommittee to Investigate COVID-19 Pandemic and U.S. Government Response said earlier this month it was seeking information, including from Dr. Anthony Fauci on the idea that the virus was accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab. The letter from the Commission is also addressed to Director of National Intelligence Avril Hein and other senior government officials.
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Kentucky Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Republicans would “stick to the facts” and “hold accountable U.S. government officials who participated in any kind of cover-up.”
Republicans accuse Fauci of lying to Congress He denied in May that the National Institutes of Health had funded “gain-of-function” research, which, if proven true, would make the US complicit in the pandemic.
Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, believes it’s important for President Biden to know what happened “to better prevent future pandemics,” but such studies are unlikely. “It must be done in a safe and secure manner and with as much transparency as possible to others,” he stressed.of the world. “