Researchers are divided over whether the virus emerged in nature or accidentally leaked from a laboratory. The report issued by the office that coordinates the 18 US spy agencies, including the CIA, ruled out, however, that it was produced as a biological weapon.
Biden sends US intelligence agencies to investigate origin of new coronavirus
Experts warn that time is running out to gather crucial information about the origin of the virus. China’s foreign minister criticized the report, calling it “unscientific”.
The report from the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence said there is no consensus in the US intelligence community about the most likely origin of the coronavirus.
“All agencies understand that there are two plausible hypotheses: natural exposure to an infected animal and laboratory-associated incident.”
According to the report, several spy agencies believe that Covid-19 arose from “natural exposure to an animal infected with the coronavirus or a similar parent virus.” But they pointed to “low confidence” in that conclusion.
Another intelligence agency said it had “moderate confidence” that the first human infection came from a “laboratory-associated incident” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which has been studying coronaviruses in bats for more than a decade.
US President Joe Biden released a statement after the report was published criticizing China for not cooperating with the investigation.
China rejects second phase of investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus
“Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the Pupular Republic of China, but from the beginning, government officials in China have been working to prevent international investigators and members of the global health community from accessing (this data),” said Biden.
“The world deserves answers, and we are not going to rest until we have them,” he added.
The pandemic, which has killed nearly 4.5 million people worldwide, began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
A World Health Organization team, which visited Wuhan, concluded this year that the disease likely spread from an animal sold at a food market.
But that conclusion has been refuted by some scientists. In May, Biden asked US intelligence agencies to analyze the data and produce a report that would “bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” about the virus’s origin.
China, meanwhile, has fed unfounded reports that the virus originated from Fort Detrick, a US military installation.
Last week, the World Health Organization said it would soon be “biologically impossible” to collect evidence dating back to the virus’s origin.
“The window of opportunity to conduct this crucial investigation is rapidly closing,” he warned, urging researchers and governments to speed up research.