A declassified report from US intelligence agencies has revealed that there is no direct evidence linking the COVID-19 pandemic to an incident at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. The four-page report, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), states that while the possibility of the virus originating from a laboratory cannot be ruled out, the intelligence community has not been able to determine the precise origins of the pandemic.
According to the ODNI report, both the “natural” and “lab” hypotheses face challenges and rely on significant assumptions. The report acknowledges that extensive research on coronaviruses was conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology but states that no evidence of a specific incident that could have caused the outbreak has been found.
The report also notes that reports of lab researchers falling ill in late 2019 are inconclusive, as the symptoms observed could have been caused by various diseases and were not consistently indicative of COVID-19.
Under President Joe Biden, there has been a push to release more information regarding the origins of the pandemic. However, the report emphasizes the difficulty of determining the origins due to China’s lack of cooperation with independent reviews.
The release of the report has sparked controversy, with some Republicans accusing the administration of withholding classified information and researchers criticizing the perceived lack of transparency. While four agencies believe the virus was transmitted from animals to humans, the Energy Department and the FBI believe in the lab leak theory. The CIA and another agency have not made a definitive assessment.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, located in the city where the pandemic is believed to have originated, has faced scrutiny for its previous research on bat coronaviruses and reported security issues.
The origins of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a subject of intense debate in the United States since the first cases were reported in Wuhan in late 2019.