COVID-19 Origins May Never Be Identified, US Intelligence Agencies Say

Agencies released an extensive version of their review of if the virus came from an animal-to-human transmission.

2 min read
COVID-19 Origins May Never Be Identified, US Intelligence Agencies Say

US intelligence agencies, on Friday, 29 October, said that they may never be able to identify the origins of COVID-19.

The agencies released an extensive version of their review of whether the deadly virus came from an animal-to-human transmission or leaked from a lab.

The Office of the US Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said that a natural origin and a lab leak are both possible hypotheses for how COVID-19 first infected humans.

However, it said some analysts disagree on whether any definitive assessment can be made at all.

The report also dismissed suggestions that the virus originated as a bioweapon. It said proponents of the theory "do not have direct access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology" and have been accused of spreading disinformation.


The recent report is an update of a 90-day review that US President Joe Biden's administration released in August.

The report created a massive political furore over how much to blame China for the impact of the global pandemic.

"The US moves of relying on its intelligence apparatus instead of scientists to trace the origins of COVID-19 is a complete political farce," Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said in a statement, criticising the report.

"... It will only undermine science-based origins study and hinder the global effort of finding the source of the virus," the statement added.

The recent ODNI report said four US spy agencies and a multi-agency body have "low confidence" that COVID-19 originated with an infected animal or a related virus.

But one agency said it had "moderate confidence" that the first human COVID-19 infection was the result of a laboratory accident.

The report said US agencies and the global scientific community lacked "clinical samples or a complete understanding of epidemiological data from the earliest COVID-19 cases".

China has faced global criticism for failing to cooperate in investigations of the origins of the virus that wreaked havoc across the world.

However, the Chinese embassy in Washington has dismissed these claims.

"We have been supporting science-based efforts on origins tracing, and will continue to stay actively engaged. That said, we firmly oppose attempts to politicise this issue," it said.

(With inputs from Reuters.)

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