The federal government still does not know the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has not ruled out either a lab-based origin or “human contact with an infected animal,” the Biden administration announced Wednesday.
In remarks attributed to President Joe Biden, the White House released a statement Wednesday said that the intelligence community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios” for the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first scenario involves a human coming into contact with an infected animal, and the second scenario involves a “laboratory accident.”
The statement does not expand on what exactly a “laboratory accident” would entail. However, mere months ago, publicly entertaining any possible lab-based origin for the pandemic — such as through a leak of some kind — was well outside the Overton window.
While the intelligence community hasn’t come to a conclusion about the origins of the pandemic, Biden said that “two elements in the IC” lean toward animal-human transmission origins, while another element leans toward a lab-based origin. Each of these elements has a “low or moderate confidence” in the position, and “the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” said Biden’s statement.
Biden said the United States will “keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation.” He also the intelligence community will report back to him in 90 days, with the goal of bringing “us closer to a definitive conclusion” on the origins of the pandemic.
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