WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials released an intelligence report on Friday dismissing some points made by those who argue that COVID-19 leaked from a Chinese lab, instead reiterating that American intelligence agencies remain divided about how the pandemic started.
The report was released at the behest of Congress in March passed a bill Give US intelligence agencies 90 days to release information related to Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Intelligence officials under President Joe Biden have been pushed by lawmakers to release more material on the origins of COVID-19. But they have done it repeatedly argued China’s official disability Due to the multitude of independent reviews, it may be impossible to determine how the pandemic began.
The latest report angered some Republicans, who argued the government was wrong to withhold confidential information, and researchers, who accused the US of not being forthcoming.
John Ratcliffe, who served as US intelligence director under former President Donald Trump, accused the Biden administration of “persistent obfuscation.”
“The lab leak is the only theory backed by science, intelligence and common sense,” Ratcliffe said in a statement.
Following the revelation earlier this year that the Department of Energy’s intelligence branch had issued a report pleads for an incident related to the laboratory.
But Friday’s report said the secret services had gone no further. Four agencies still believe the virus passed from animals to humans, and two agencies — the Department of Energy and the FBI — believe the virus leaked from a lab. The CIA and another agency have not made an assessment.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is located in the city where the pandemic is believed to have started was subjected to an intensive examination for his previous research on bat coronaviruses and the reported vulnerabilities.
The lab has developed genetically engineered viruses as part of its research, the report said, including efforts to combine different viruses.
However, the report said the U.S. Secret Service “has no information to suggest that the WIV’s genetic engineering work involved SARS-CoV-2, a close progenitor or backbone virus closely enough related to to have been the source of the pandemic.” .”
And reports about several laboratory researchers who developed respiratory problems in autumn 2019 are also inconclusive, the report says.
The report states: “US intelligence continues to believe that this information does not support or disprove either hypothesis about the origin of the pandemic because the researchers’ symptoms could have been caused by a range of diseases and some of the symptoms could not have been.” be compatible with COVID-19.” .”
In response to the report, Republican chairs of the House Intelligence Committee and a select subcommittee on the pandemic jointly said they had gathered information supporting the lab leak hypothesis. Rep. Mike Turner and Brad Wenstrup, both from Ohio, hailed the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a “promising step towards transparency”.
“While we appreciate the ODNI’s report, confirmation of all available evidence and further investigation into the origins of COVID-19 must continue,” said Turner and Wenstrup.
But Alina Chan, a molecular biologist who has long argued that the virus may have originated in the Wuhan lab, noted that the public version of the report did not include the names of the researchers who fell ill, nor other details mandated by Congress.
The bill, which will require verification, will allow intelligence officials to publicly redact information to protect the intelligence agencies’ sources and methods.
“It’s getting very hard to believe that the government isn’t trying to hide their knowledge of #OriginOfCovid when you see a report like this that doesn’t contain any of the requested information,” Chan tweeted.