The United States intelligence community has reached an inconclusive assessment about the origin of the COVID-19- virus, following a 90-day investigation ordered by President Joe Biden, according to an unclassified summary of the probe released publicly on Friday.
The intelligence community is still divided about which of the two theories — that the virus came from a lab leak or that it jumped from animal to human naturally — is likely to be correct, the intelligence community said. There is consensus among the intelligence agencies that the two prevailing theories are plausible, according to the summary released by the Office of the director of National Intelligence.
“All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and laboratory-associated incident,” the intelligence community wrote.
The unclassified report, two-page report, was released Friday by the intelligence community after Biden had asked intelligence agencies to “redouble” their efforts to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic began. Biden, who tasked them with declassifying as much of the report as possible, was briefed on the investigation earlier this week.
While this review has concluded, our efforts to understand the origins of this pandemic will not rest,” Biden said in a statement after the summary was released Friday. “We will do everything we can to trace the roots of this outbreak that has caused so much pain and death around the world, so that we can take every necessary precaution to prevent it from happening again.”
In the statement, Biden criticized China for not being more transparent in helping the investigation, and the intelligence community said China’s cooperation would likely be needed to reach a more definitive conclusion.
“Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it,” Biden said.
While the investigation did not reach a conclusive assessment on the origin of the virus, it did knock down some theories. The intelligence community judged, for instance, that COVID-19 was not developed as a biological weapon, as some Republicans had suggested last year. The report says most agencies assessed with low confidence that it’s unlikely COVID-19 was genetically engineered, either.