Report on COVID-19 Origins Released, U.S. Intelligence Officials Remain Divided on the Matter

COVID 19 Origin (Photo: Getty Images)

A highly anticipated government report on the origins of Covid-19 has provided new insights into the findings of the U.S. intelligence community but stopped short of definitively pinpointing whether the coronavirus originated from exposure to an infected animal or from a laboratory incident.

The 10-page declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated, “All agencies continue to assess that both a natural and laboratory-associated origin remain plausible hypotheses to explain the first human infection.”

The report highlighted divisions within the Intelligence Community regarding the origins of the virus.

While the National Intelligence Council and four unnamed agencies leaned towards natural exposure to an infected animal as the most likely scenario, the Department of Energy and FBI favored a laboratory-associated incident as the more probable explanation for the initial human infection.

Conversely, the CIA and another undisclosed agency “remain unable to determine the precise origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, as both hypotheses rely on significant assumptions or face challenges with conflicting reporting,” the report elaborated.

However, the report clarified that “almost all” intelligence agencies agreed that the virus was not genetically engineered, and unanimously concluded that Covid-19 was not developed as a biological weapon.

COVID Vaccination (Photo: Matt Rourke)

Earlier this year, Congress mandated the intelligence community to declassify information regarding potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the pandemic’s origins.

The report shed light on the Wuhan institute’s role, which has been central to hypotheses suggesting the virus either escaped from a lab and infected people or was transmitted to humans from an animal.

In 2021, a U.S. intelligence report identified three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology who sought medical treatment after falling ill in November 2019, providing inconclusive, circumstantial evidence that could support the hypothesis of a lab-related escape leading to human infection.

The intelligence community expanded its investigation into Covid-19 earlier this year, examining whether the first human infection resulted from natural exposure to an infected animal or a laboratory-linked incident, as detailed in the report released on Friday.

A spokesperson from the White House National Security Council emphasized that the report’s publication reflects President Joe Biden’s commitment “to declassify and share as much information as possible related to the origins of COVID-19, while protecting sources and methods.”

The spokesperson underscored that uncovering the origins of Covid-19 remains a top priority for the president.

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