True origins of coronavirus may never be known, US intelligence admit

Say theories involving transmission from animals or a leak from a lab – perhaps in China – are plausible

Covid children
Representative photo: PTI

The true origins of COVID-19 may never be known, US intelligence agencies have admitted.

The Office of the US Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said on Friday that theories involving transmission from animals or a leak from a lab – perhaps in China – were plausible.

However, the ODNI added that analysts could not agree which was more likely or if any firm conclusion could be made at all.

The ODNI did, however, dismiss suggestions that the virus originated as a bioweapon in a Chinese lab, saying backers of this theory “do not have direct access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology”.

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Those behind this theory have been accused of spreading disinformation, it added.

The findings were published in a declassified report – an update of a 90-day review that President Joe Biden’s administration released in August.

China has been criticised for not being more cooperative in the investigations into COVID-19’s origins and there are differing views in the US as to how much the Asian giant should be blamed.

There is broad agreement among US agencies that China has not shared all it can about the origins of the pandemic. The report called for more transparency by China, and said Beijing needed to release information about possible intermediate species that the virus could have infected before leaping to humans, what it knows about the nature of the first human infections and more data about the Wuhan lab’s research work.

Responding to the report, the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, told Reuters: “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.”

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