A classified US intelligence report delivered to the White House on Tuesday was inconclusive about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to US media reports, due in part to a lack of information from China.
The assessment, ordered 90 days ago by President Joe Biden, could not definitively conclude whether the virus that first emerged in central China had jumped to humans via animals or escaped from a high-security research facility in Wuhan, two US officials said. who were familiar with the matter. the Washington Post.
They said parts of the report could be released in the coming days.
The debate over the origin of the virus that has killed more than 4 million people and crippled economies worldwide has become increasingly controversial.
When entrusted with the investigation, Biden said US intelligence was divided on the “two likely scenarios” — animals or labs.
Former President Donald Trump and his aides had fomented the lab leak theory, using it to shift blame for how their administration handled the world’s biggest outbreak, and instead point the finger at Beijing, which the strongly denies the hypothesis.
China on Wednesday urged WHO to visit US military biolab Fort Detrick after rejecting its calls last month for a second phase of the investigation into the origins of Covid targeting Chinese labs.
“If (the US) wants to accuse China unfounded, they’d better be prepared to accept a counter-attack from China,” Fu Cong, head of the State Department’s arms control division, told reporters.
“If the US thinks China is guilty, they have to come up with evidence to prove China is guilty. You don’t blame a victim for not providing information to incriminate himself.”
Despite Biden’s directive that the intelligence community “redouble their efforts” to untangle the debate over origins, the 90-day review didn’t get them any closer to a consensus, the officials told the Post.
Beijing has rejected calls from the US and other countries for a renewed origin investigation after a heavily politicized visit by a World Health Organization team in January also proved inconclusive and was criticized for lack of transparency and access.
Meanwhile, the pressure has increased to evaluate the lab leak theory more thoroughly.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the hypothesis of natural origin – that the virus emerged in bats and was then transmitted to humans, probably through an intermediate species – became widely accepted. But as time has gone on, scientists have not found a virus in bats or any other animal that matches the SARS-CoV-2 genetic signature.
In light of China’s reluctance to open up to outside researchers, experts are increasingly open to the theory that the virus could have leaked from a lab conducting bat coronavirus research in Wuhan, an idea once dismissed as a conspiracy. which was propagated by the US far-right.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)