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U.S. intelligence review inconclusive on COVID origins

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U.S. intelligence review inconclusive on COVID origins

A colored transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Photo: NIAID / IMAGE POINT FR / NIH / NIAID / BSIP / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to conclusively identify the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to an unclassified summary of their findings released Friday by the office of the director of the National Intelligence Service. Furthermore, according to the executive summary, it would likely require additional collaboration from China to reach a final conclusion – as many in the global scientific community have also said.

However, US intelligence agencies ruled out the coronavirus being developed as a bio-weapon, finding that Chinese government officials “had no prior knowledge of the virus prior to the first COVID-19 outbreak,” according to the ODNI abstract.

President Biden had ordered a 90-day intelligence review by the country’s various espionage agencies (including the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) because the so-called “Labor Leak Hypothesis” was attracting increasing attention withdrew. All authorities concluded that both the laboratory leak theory and the natural exposure hypothesis remain “plausible,” the abstract said, although most authorities believe the virus was “likely” not to have been genetically modified.

Four agencies and the National Intelligence Council “judge with little confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a nearby progenitor virus,” the report said.

Another agency’s analysis tended to flee the laboratory, assessing “with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 was most likely the result of a laboratory-related incident that likely involved experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of included virology. “

And three agencies were unable to “walk around either explanation without additional information, with some analysts being natural, others laboratory, and some considering the hypotheses equally likely”.

Determining where SARS-CoV-2 came from would “most likely” require additional information and cooperation from the Chinese government, but China “continues to obstruct the global investigation, oppose disclosure of information, and give other countries, including the United States, blame, ”said ODNI. “These measures partly reflect the Chinese government’s uncertainty about where an investigation could lead and its frustration that the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China.”

In a statement following the publication of the ODNI summary, President Biden criticized China for its lack of transparency and promised that his government will continue to investigate the origins of the virus. “The world deserves answers, and I won’t rest until we get them,” he said – although it remains unclear how.

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