WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVO) — The U.S. Department of Energy says the most likely origin of the COVID-19 pandemic was a laboratory leak in China, according to a new unclassified intelligence report.
CNN reported that two sources said the intelligence report said it had “low confidence” in the lab leak theory, meaning the information resulting in the assessment is not reliable enough to make a definitive assessment.
But, the agency said a lab leak or a rare human-to-animal contact was the most likely origin of the pathogen.
The report also said that COVID-19 was likely not engineered as a biological weapon, and that the Chinese government were probably unaware of it at the time the pandemic began.
U.S. spy agencies remain divided over the origin of the virus.
The F.B.I. also concluded, with moderate confidence, that the virus first emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory that works on coronaviruses. Four other intelligence agencies have concluded, with low confidence, that the virus emerged through human-to-animal contact.
President Biden ordered a study of the virus’ origins in his early days in office, after criticism of a 2021 World Health Organization report that called it “extremely unlikely” that the virus emerged from a Chinese lab.
Since then, the WHO has acknowledged ruling out the lab leak theory was “premature.”
Leaders of the intelligence community are set to brief Congress on March 8th and 9th.
China has repeatedly called the lab leak theory a politically motivated attack.
However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said following the report’s release: “Origins tracing is a matter of science. China always supports and will continue to participate in the science-based origins study.”