President Joe Biden’s administration released a long-awaited report on Friday afternoon about the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The report gave no definitive answers, was relatively soft on China, and effectively stated that the origins of the coronavirus will never be known without China’s cooperation.
The unclassified version of the report, which was just a little over one page long, said that the outbreak happened no later than November 2019 and that it initially started with “small-scale exposure” in Wuhan, China. The report, which was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, claimed that the agencies reached “broad agreement on several other key issues,” including that the coronavirus was “not developed as a biological weapon,” even though the lab was reportedly working on classified research for the Chinese military.
“Most agencies also assess with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered; however, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way,” the report claimed. “Finally, the IC assesses China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged.”
The Biden administration’s claims come after in-depth reports point to SARS-CoV-2 emerging from gain of function experiments conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Other top experts have explained in even more detail “the damning fact” that they say points to the coronavirus being genetically altered.
Other top former officials have stated that the U.S. government had biostatisticians calculate the odds of the coronavirus evolving naturally, which they found was one-in-13 billion.
The Biden administration’s report concludes that the two hypotheses that are plausible are the natural exposure theory and the lab leak theory:
- 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.
- One IC element 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.
- Analysts at three IC elements remain unable to coalesce around either explanation without additional information, with some analysts favoring natural origin, others a laboratory origin, and some seeing the hypotheses as equally likely.
The report claimed that the different views between the agencies stem from how they weigh “intelligence reporting and scientific publications, and intelligence and scientific gaps.”
The report concluded by saying that the administration “will be unable to provide a more definitive explanation” for the origins of the coronavirus unless more information comes to light, which it said would “most likely” require China to cooperate with an investigation.
“Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States,” the report said. “These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s 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.”
A much more detailed report, more than 80 pages long, from Republican Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pinned the blame on China with significantly more force and put much more confidence in the coronavirus coming from one of China’s biolabs.
That report’s executive summary stated:
- The sudden removal of the WIV’s virus and sample database in the middle of the night on September 12, 2019 and without explanation;
- Safety concerns expressed by top PRC scientists in 2019 and unusually scheduled maintenance at the WIV;
- Athletes at the Military World Games held in Wuhan in October 2019 who became sick with symptoms similar to COVID-19 both while in Wuhan and also shortly after returning to their home countries;
- Satellite imagery of Wuhan in September and October 2019 that showed a significant uptick in the number of people at local hospitals surrounding the WIV’s headquarters, coupled with an unusually high number of patients with symptoms similar to COVID-19;
- The installation of a People’s Liberation Army’s bioweapons expert as the head of the WIV’s Biosafety Level 4 lab (BSL-4), possibly as early as late 2019; and
- Actions by the Chinese Communist Party and scientists working at or affiliated with the WIV to hide or coverup the type of research being conducted at there.
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