COVID: US intelligence report addresses lab leak theory


US officials released an intelligence report on Friday that refuted some of the points made by those who said COVID-19 leaked from a Chinese lab, reiterating instead that the agencies US spy agencies remain divided over how the pandemic started.

The report comes at the behest of Congress, which in March passed a bill giving US intelligence 90 days to declassify intelligence related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Intelligence officials under President Joe Biden have been pushed by lawmakers to release more documents on the origins of COVID-19. But they have repeatedly argued that the Chinese authorities’ obstruction of independent assessments has made it perhaps impossible to determine how the pandemic began.

The latest report has angered some Republicans, who say the administration wrongly withheld classified information and researchers accuse the United States of being unwilling.

John Ratcliffe, who served as US director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump, accused the Biden administration of “continued cover-ups”.

“The lab leak is the only theory supported by science, intelligence and common sense,” Ratcliffe said in a statement.

There has been renewed interest from researchers after it was revealed earlier this year that the Department of Energy’s intelligence division had issued a report arguing for a lab-related incident.

But Friday’s report said the intelligence community did not go further. Four agencies still believe the virus was transmitted from animals to humans, and two agencies – the Department of Energy and the FBI – believe the virus leaked from the lab. The CIA and another agency have not yet commented.

Located in the city where the pandemic is believed to have started, the Wuhan Institute of Virology has faced intense scrutiny for its previous research on bat coronaviruses and its reported security flaws. .

The report says the lab has genetically engineered viruses as part of its research, including efforts to combine different viruses.

The report said US intelligence “has no information, however, indicating that any genetic engineering work by WIV is related to SARS-CoV-2, a close ancestor.” or a closely related backbone virus to be the source of a pandemic.” .”

And reports of several lab researchers falling ill with respiratory symptoms in the fall of 2019 were also inconclusive, the report argued.

U.S. intelligence, the report said, “continues to assess that this information neither supports nor disprove the hypothesis of the origin of the pandemic because the researchers’ symptoms may have been caused by a number of diseases.” and some symptoms are not consistent with COVID-19.”

In response to the report, the chairmen of the Republican House Intelligence Committee and a select subcommittee on the pandemic jointly said they had gathered information that supported the lab leak hypothesis. Congressmen Mike Turner and Brad Wenstrup, both in Ohio, credited the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence for taking a “promising step towards transparency.”

“While we appreciate the report from ODNI, corroboration of all available evidence along with further investigation into the origins of COVID-19 must continue,” said Turner and Wenstrup.

But Alina Chan, a molecular biologist who has long argued that the virus may have originated in the Wuhan lab, noted that the public version of the report did not include the names of the researchers who were caught. disease or other details required by Congress.

The bill requires consideration of allowing intelligence officials to edit publicly available information to protect the agency’s sources and methods.

“It’s hard to believe the government isn’t trying to hide what it knows about .OriginOfCovid when you see a report like this that doesn’t contain any of the requested information,” Chan wrote on Twitter.


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