Intelligence community investigation unable to reach consensus on the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic

By John Mecklin | August 27, 2021

US intelligence agencies have been unable to reach consensus on how the COVID-19 pandemic began after a 90-day investigation ordered by US President Joe Biden, an unclassified summary of the results of that inquiry released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says.

Made public Friday, the summary says that four elements of the intelligence community assess with “low confidence” that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus.

One agency found with “moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” the summary says. A New York Times’ report on the summary suggests that agency is the FBI.

And three other elements of the intelligence community were unable to decide between those two possible origins for the pandemic, “with some analysts favoring natural origin, others a laboratory origin, and some seeing the hypotheses as equally likely,” the summary says.

The summary also says that the intelligence and scientific communities lack the clinical samples and other data from the earliest COVID-19 cases needed to make a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19. China’s cooperation would be needed to gain that information, the assessment asserts, and Beijing has refused to cooperate because of its “own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead as well as its frustration the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China.”

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In a statement also issued Friday, President Biden criticized China for withholding information and vowed to do everything possible “to trace the roots of this outbreak that has caused so much pain and death around the world, so that we can take every necessary precaution to prevent it from happening again.”

“The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them,” Biden’s statement 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.”

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Michael Morrissey
2 years ago

Neither the IC Summary nor the NYT article even mentions the detailed and comprehensive 84-page House report that says “the preponderance of the evidence proves the virus did leak from the WIV,” that “a natural or genetically modified virus could have easily escaped the lab and infected the community,” and that American and Chinese scientists years before Sept. 2019 “had the ability to genetically modify coronaviruses without leaving any trace evidence.” The House Report remains to this date unreported by the NYT, although it has been publicly accessible since Aug. 2.

Matt Kennedy
Matt Kennedy
2 years ago

You left out two important details. First, it’s a minority report from the GOP. Second, it’s from a House subcommittee. It’s nowhere as elevated as you claim to make it.

Since facts are fleeting for the GOP, a solid fact-check is necessary.

2 years ago

This publication seems to have staked its entire credibility on promoting this lab leak theory, which has gone nowhere, appears to be mostly likely false and has seriously damaged the reputation of science worldwide, harmed international cooperation and engendered extraordinarily acute geopolitical hostility at the most perilous time. For a group that is concerned about mitigating these extreme tail-end risks, it seems shockingly cavalier and even self-satisfied about promoting reckless speculation over outrageous, circumstantial claims.

peter gutierrez
peter gutierrez
2 years ago

The National Intelligence Council (IC)  low confidence in nature origin of Covid-19   “Four IC elements and the National Intelligence Council assess with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus—a virus that probably would be more than 99 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2.”    “Unclassified Summary of Assessment on Covid-19 Origins’,   Is the IC assessment of  low confidence that Covid-19 originated in nature, an unbelief and distrust in  the conclusions of  the mainstream scientific community,  that Covid-19 originated in nature. From the outset of the… Read more »