US report on Covid-19 origins finds intelligence community ‘divided’ between lab leak and animal exposure theories

US report on Covid-19 origins finds intelligence community ‘divided’ between lab leak and animal exposure theories

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released its report on the origins of Covid-19. The much-awaited report failed to live up to the hype, revealing that US intelligence agencies were split on the issue.

The ‘Intelligence Community assessment,’ released on Friday, found that officials “remain divided on the most likely origin of Covid-19,” acknowledging, however, that two hypotheses are most likely: “natural exposure to an infected animal or a laboratory-associated incident.”

One agency, which is not identified in the report, argued with “moderate confidence” that the virus originated in a Chinese government lab. Four other agencies, equally unnamed, ascertained, though, with “low confidence,” that the virus emerged naturally.

While theories about a lab incident out of Wuhan, China were originally dismissed by health officials, it has now become a popular theory about the virus, especially among conservative pundits. 

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The “key takeaways” from the investigation did declare that the virus “probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure” that occurred in November of 2019. The first cluster of cases was found the following month in the city of Wuhan.

Some conclusions have been drawn with more confidence, like the fact that the virus is not a “biological weapon,” stating the virus is “probably” not genetically engineered (though it notes two agencies disagreed any such conclusion could be made).

A conclusion agreed about by the ‘intelligence community’ as a whole is that “China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus” before the initial outbreaks, something that has become an increasingly popular theory among some critics who have pushed the lab leak theory.

The assessment ultimately fails to provide any conclusive answers as to the mystery of the Covid-19 origin - the very sought-after information by the general public.

The report blames the lack of relevant data about the virus for the US intelligence community’s failure to reach any definite answers.

“The IC—and the global scientific community—lacks clinical samples or a complete understanding of epidemiological data from the earliest COVID-19 cases. If we obtain information on the earliest cases that identified a location of interest or occupational exposure, it may alter our evaluation of hypotheses,” the report states.

A more thorough study would need the cooperation of China, the report argues, blaming Beijing for “hindering” the probe by not sharing enough data and by pointing its finger at other countries, including the US, as those where the virus might have originated instead.

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“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 claims.

China has repeatedly dismissed the lab leak theory as an attempt to “politicize” the pandemic. Bejung refused to participate in the second probe into the virus’ origins, proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), arguing that any such inquiry would go “against science” and common sense.

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