According to a new report, the United States Energy Department has assessed that it is likely the Covid-19 pandemic originated in China from an accidental lab leak.
The Energy Department now agrees with the FBI that the coronavirus is likely to have spread because of a mishap at a laboratory in China, according to the Wall Street Journal. It cited a classified intelligence report recently provided to key members of Congress and the White House.
According to the publication, Avril Haines’s office mentioned the new information in an update to a 2021 document. Haines is the Director of National Intelligence.
Four additional agencies, along with the National Intelligence Council, assessed with “low confidence” that the Covid-19 pandemic originated due to transmission naturally from an infected animal. However, the CIA and another unnamed agency need to be convinced.
The new report contends a consensus between all intelligence agencies that the global pandemic was not the product of a Chinese bioweapons program.
The view of the Energy Department is notable, according to the Journal, because it oversees a network of U.S. national laboratories and has significant scientific expertise. Some of the laboratories conduct cutting-edge biological research.
People who read the report said the Energy Department now ranks its new assessment at “low confidence.” At the same time, the FBI concluded in 2021 the occurrence of an accidental lab leak with “moderate confidence” and continues to hold that view.
The FBI and Energy Department came to the conclusions separately for varied reasons.
An Energy Department spokesperson said, “The Department of Energy continues to support the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals in investigating the origins of Covid-19, as directed by the president.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan maintains there is not yet enough information
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, was asked about the Journal’s report during an appearance Sunday on CNN. “There is a variety of views in the intelligence community. Some elements in the intelligence community have reached conclusions on one side, some on the other. A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information to be sure,” said Sullivan.
“Here’s what I can tell you: President Biden has directed repeatedly every element of our intelligence community to put effort and resources behind getting to the bottom of this question,” continued Sullivan. “And one of the things in that Wall Street Journal report, which I can’t confirm or deny, but I will say the reference to the Department of Energy, President Biden specifically requested that the national labs, which are a part of the Department of Energy, be brought into this assessment because he wants to put every tool at use to be able to figure out what happened here. And if we gain any further insider information, we will share it with Congress, and we will share it with the American people. But right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question.”
The U.S. intelligence report for 2021 maintained that the virus first circulated in Wuhan, China, by November 2019, according to the Journal report. However, China has rejected claims the virus could have possibly started in one of its labs and has curtailed investigations by the World Health Organization into the beginning of the global pandemic.
According to the Journal report, no verified animal source of the pandemic has been discovered, and Wuhan remains the center of China’s expansive coronavirus research. The 2021 report hypothesized that the Wuhan outbreak did not originate in the seafood market but contributed to the spread of the virus and was not its origin.