Credit: Bill Lane /

COVID-19 Likely Came from Chinese Lab, US Energy Department Says

The US Energy Department believes that the COVID-19 pandemic began after an accidental leak from a Chinese laboratory, according to reporting in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that a classified intelligence report, which was recently presented to the White House and “key members of Congress”, stated that the Energy Department now believed, with ‘low confidence,’ that COVID-19 had originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. The Energy Department had previously stated that it was unsure how the pandemic had begun.

In mid-2021 the National Intelligence Council published a report, Updated Assessment on COVID-19 Origins, which stated that “four IC elements [Intelligence Community] 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.”

The Journal reports that those four agencies are still of the view that the pandemic began due to natural transmission, with another two agencies undecided.

The NIC report states that one intelligence organization, unnamed in the report but subsequently reported to have been the FBI, “assesses 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 report notes broad agreement that COVID-19 was not developed as a bio-weapon, and partial agreement, with low confidence, that the virus was not genetically engineered.

The report noted that it was difficult, if not impossible, to determine exactly what happened in Wuhan, where COVID-19 came from and if it had been genetically engineered, without the cooperation of China. The report states that China “continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information, and blame other countries.” This refusal to cooperate, the report says, “reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, in response to the Journal’s reporting, told CNN that it was still unclear exactly what caused the pandemic and that those organisations and governments attempting to understand it “just don’t have enough information to be sure.”

Sullivan said that, whilst there was no ‘definitive answer,’ President Biden has “directed every element of our intelligence community to put effort behind getting to the bottom of this.”

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