Healthcare

Lawrence Livermore report finds Wuhan lab leak theory plausible

A laboratory technician works on samples to be tested for the novel coronavirus at the "Fire Eye" laboratory in Wuhan, China
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A study prepared last year by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reportedly found that the theory that COVID-19 originated from a Chinese lab in Wuhan was plausible and warranted further investigation from health officials. 

The Wall Street Journal, which spoke with people familiar with the classified document, reported that the May 2020 study from the California-based research facility made its conclusion based on genomic analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. 

In October 2020, the study was reportedly received by the State Department, which asked Lawrence Livermore for additional information as the Trump administration in its final months conducted an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins. 

The State Department’s findings from its probe were made public in January and included that the federal government “has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] became sick in autumn 2019” with symptoms consistent with those associated with COVID-19. 

The Journal previously reported that this finding was based on a U.S. intelligence report that three researchers required hospitalization in November 2019 after becoming sick. 

The Lawrence Livermore study was conducted when the Wuhan lab theory was disputed by several top health officials who instead advanced the theory that the virus first spread to humans from an infected animal. 

The existence of the study, which remains private, was first reported last month by the Sinclair Broadcast Group and was included in a recent Vanity Fair article. 

A Lawrence Livermore spokesperson declined to comment when reached by The Hill. 

The Journal’s reporting comes as the Wuhan lab theory is now gaining traction among scientists, with President Biden late last month asking the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to come to a definitive conclusion on the disease’s origins and report back to him within 90 days.

Top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, said in an April hearing that the laboratory origin theory was possible and that the intelligence community was looking into it. 

The search into COVID-19’s origins has been complicated by a lack of access to sufficient information from China, which has repeatedly denied the assertion that the virus originated from a Chinese lab. 

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has also pushed back on the theory, asserting that none of its staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tags Avril Haines Biden adminitration California China coronavirus origins coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 origins Joe Biden State Department The Wall Street Journal Trump Administration Wuhan Wuhan lab
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