Although American spy agencies are still divided about the virus’s origins, new intelligence has led the Energy Department to determine that an unintentional laboratory breach in China was most likely the cause of the coronavirus outbreak, US officials said Sunday.
The department had previously stated that it was unsure of how the virus first arose, therefore the conclusion represented a change in that stance.
According to several government officials who were briefed on the intelligence, it was relatively feeble and the Energy Department’s conclusion was reached with “low confidence,” implying that the degree of assurance was not high. According to officials, despite the department sharing the information with other agencies, none of them revised their findings.
Authorities refused to reveal the nature of the intelligence. Nevertheless, rather than more conventional sources of intelligence like spy networks or communications intercepts, the Energy Department derives much of its insights from the network of national laboratories it oversees.
Although they warn that figuring out the source of the virus may be difficult or even impossible given Chinese hostility to further research, intelligence officials feel that examining the pandemic’s origins could be crucial to enhancing the world’s response to upcoming health crises. According to scientists, it is important to clarify how a pandemic that has killed close to 7 million people got started since knowing more about its beginnings may assist researchers identify the main dangers associated with future epidemics.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the fresh intelligence and the change in the department’s perspective on Sunday.
The national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, refuses to confirm the intelligence. But, he claimed that in order to ensure that the government was using “every instrument” available, President Joseph Biden had directed that the national labs be included in the investigation into the cause of the outbreak.
Together with the Energy Department, the FBI has also come to the conclusion that the virus was originally unintentionally released from a Chinese lab that studied coronaviruses, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The director of national intelligence’s office stated in October 2021 that the National Intelligence Council, together with four other intelligence agencies, came to the low-confidence conclusion that the virus most likely developed by natural transmission.
These distinctions, according to Sullivan, continue.
As part of yearly hearings on global threats, leaders of the intelligence community are scheduled to inform Congress on March 8 and 9.
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