China dismisses reported Energy Department conclusion lab leak sparked COVID pandemic

China is dismissing new reporting that the Department of Energy has concluded a lab leak was most likely behind the COVID-19 pandemic, with a foreign ministry spokesperson saying the issue should not be politicized.

“Certain parties should stop rehashing the ‘lab leak’ narrative, stop smearing China and stop politicizing origins-tracing,” Mao Ning said at a regular press conference on Monday.

Mao said the tracing of the virus’s origin “is about science and should not be politicized” and cited a 2021 World Health Organization-China joint study that concluded “a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely.”

The foreign ministry spokesperson stressed that the “science-based, authoritative conclusion” was “accurately recorded in the mission’s report and has received extensive recognition from the international community.”

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported over the weekend that the Energy Department had determined with “low confidence” that a lab mishap was behind the outbreak, citing unspecified new intelligence. 

The reported conclusion matches that of the FBI, but differs from four other agencies and the National Intelligence Council, which judge the virus developed from natural transmission with an infected animal, the Journal noted.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday responded to the Journal’s report, saying the intelligence community holds “a variety of views” on the question of COVID’s origins and hasn’t come up with a “definitive answer” on the question.

Tags China COVID-19 Energy Department Jake Sullivan Pandemic

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