US Intelligence agencies still divided on COVID 19 origins

Aneela SiddiquiWeb Editor

28th Aug, 2021. 03:59 pm

According to a review of the US intelligence agencies ordered by President Joe Biden, US intelligence services are split on the origins of the coronavirus, but believe that leaders of China were unaware of the virus before the pandemic began globally.

Four intelligence agencies reported that the virus was first transmitted from an animal to a human, an unclassified summary provided on Friday.

Although researchers did not believe that the virus was produced as a bioweapon however a fifth agency believed with moderate confidence that the first human infection was connected to a lab.

The virus was not genetically developed, according to the majority of the agencies involved.

A statement released on Friday in which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that China “continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States”.

Reaching a conclusion about what caused the virus likely requires China’s cooperation, the office said.

The coronavirus is still a major public health and security concern around the world.

Many conservatives in the United States have accused Chinese scientists of creating COVID-19 in a lab and allowing it to spread.

Under former President Donald Trump, State Department officials released a fact sheet highlighting coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located in the Chinese city where the first large outbreak began.

The virus most likely spread from animals which is known as a zoonotic transmission, according to scientists.

SARS1 and MERS, two coronaviruses that originated in bats and caused human epidemics, are examples of so-called “spillover events” in nature.

Mr. Biden said in a statement that China had blocked efforts to investigate the virus “from the beginning.”

“The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them,” he said.

“Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world.”

China’s Foreign Ministry attacked the US investigation ahead of the report’s release.

At a press conference, Fu Cong, a director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that if foreign journalists who “want to baselessly accuse China, they better be prepared to accept the counterattack from China.”

In May, President Biden ordered a 90-day analysis of what the White House notified was an early result that led to “two likely scenarios”: animal-to-human transmission or a lab leak.

Two agencies in the 18-member intelligence community went toward the hypothesis of a transmission in nature, while another agency leaned toward a lab leak, according to the White House at the time.

On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not reveal which agencies favored either hypothesis.

It however mentioned some of the difficulties that the World Health Organization and scientists throughout the world face: a lack of clinical samples and data from the earliest cases of COVID-19.

Intelligence agencies worked with allies and specialists from outside the government during the review.


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