Intelligence community issues inconclusive report about origins of COVID-19

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Intelligence community issues inconclusive report about origins of COVID-19
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Intelligence community issues inconclusive report about origins of COVID-19
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The U.S. intelligence community remains divided about the origin of COVID-19, according to an unclassified summary of its 90-day investigation into the matter. All agencies agreed that two hypotheses are possible – natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident.

But the report failed to draw a definitive conclusion and issued its main findings with low or moderate confidence, citing impediments stemming from the Chinese government’s refusal to share essential data.

“The [intelligence community] judges they will be unable to provide a more definitive explanation for the origin of COVID-19 unless new information allows them to determine the specific pathway for initial natural contact with an animal or to determine that a laboratory in Wuhan was handling SARSCoV-2 or a close progenitor virus before COVID-19 emerged,” the report, released Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said. SARSCoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became the site of intense scrutiny after reports emerged that U.S. officials had previously warned of safety issues at the lab, and that three of its researchers sought hospital care for a flu-like illness in November of 2019.

“China’s cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19,” the report said. “Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States.”

In a statement, President Biden doubled down on criticism of the Chinese government for obfuscating “critical information about the origins of this pandemic.”

“The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them,” Biden said. “Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world. Pandemics do not respect international borders, and we all must better understand how COVID-19 came to be in order to prevent further pandemics.”

There were some areas of broad agreement in the report, including that the virus was not developed as a biological weapon and that Chinese officials did not know about the virus before the outbreak occurred. It also concluded that the virus likely emerged and infected humans initially through a small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019, with the first known cluster of cases arising in Wuhan in December of 2019.

In what appeared to be a slight splintering of views, two agencies said there was not sufficient evidence to determine whether the virus was genetically engineered; a previous ODNI statement from April 2020 had ruled that scenario out.

You can read the rest of Olivia Gazis and Nicole Sganga’s article at CBSnews.com

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