US intel report on COVID-19 origins inconclusive: report
A classified document given to President Biden on Tuesday revealed that the intelligence community was not able to identify any definitive origins for the virus that causes COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.
Two U.S. officials familiar with the matter told the news outlet that the intelligence findings were inconclusive and were not able to point to the exact source for the virus, including the initially accepted theory that the virus likely passed from animals to humans, nor whether it leaked as a result of a laboratory accident.
The report follows Biden’s May request for the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” on coming to an official determination on the origins of COVID-19 and report back to him within 90 days.
Biden said in a statement at the time that he wanted intelligence officials to include “areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China.”
The U.S. officials, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity because the report has not been released to the public, said that the intelligence community would move to declassify components of the report in the coming days.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
The reported inconclusive results comes after Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told Yahoo! News in a June interview that the intelligence community would likely never have “high confidence” on the origins of COVID-19.
“We’re hoping to find a smoking gun,” she said at the time, but noted “it’s challenging to do that.”
“It might happen, but it might not,” she added.
Haines, who said the intelligence review involved dozens of analysts and intelligence officials, noted that investigators have largely centered around two theories: human contact with an infected animal and the lab accident.
“I don’t know between these two plausible theories which one is the right answer,” Haines told Yahoo in June. “But I’ve listened to the analysts, and I really see why it is that they perceive these two theories as being in contest with each other and why it’s very challenging for them to assess one over the other.”
While the lab leak theory was initially dismissed by many in the scientific community earlier on in the pandemic, more have come to look into it as a plausible explanation.
However, scientists have yet to find definitive proof linking the virus to a lab, nor have they found any firm evidence showing that it was first transmitted to humans from animals.
Biden and others have called on China to be more forthright in providing access to information on the virus’s initial outbreak in the country, with officials pointing to Chinese authorities’ tight internal control as a large reason for international investigators’ inability to reach a definitive conclusion.