The U.S. Energy Department determined that the Covid-19 pandemic originated from a lab leak in China, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The striking conclusion from the report, which differs from the majority of other U.S. agencies, was a direct result of “new intelligence,” stating that a lab mishap in China likely spread the virus. In just over three years, the global contagion has taken the lives of over 6 million worldwide and over 1 million Americans.
However, according to those who have read the classified report, the Energy Department’s conclusion was made with “low confidence.” Sunday’s report is a surprising shift in position for the Energy Department, as it was previously uncertain how the virus emerged.
The Energy Department is the second U.S. agency to label a laboratory leak as the source of the pandemic after the FBI, but U.S. officials believe the two agencies reached the same conclusion for different reasons. Across the intelligence community, there is no singular conclusion about how the virus emerged; White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the U.S. still maintains a “variety of views” on Covid’s origins. He added that some elements in the intelligence organizations “just don’t have enough information to be sure.”
“Here’s what I can tell you,” Sullivan continued, “President [Joe] Biden has directed, repeatedly, every element of our intelligence community to put effort and resources behind getting to the bottom of this question.”
“If we gain any further insight or information, we will share it with Congress, and we will share it with the American people. But right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question,” Sullivan said.
According to the Journal, U.S. officials declined to give details of new intelligence that sparked a shift in the Energy Department’s conclusion.
A report from August 2021 stated that four elements of the Intelligence community, as well as the national intelligence panel “assess with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected”; one element (now identified as the FBI) thought the virus arose from a lab leak “with moderate confidence”; and analysts at three elements were uncertain.
China has rejected lab leak theories. In July 2022, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “The lab leak theory is totally a lie concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes, which has nothing to do with science.”
This report came days after the Health and Human Services Department released 900 pages of records to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic after the panel launched a probe into the virus’s origins as well as the Biden administration’s handling of the pandemic. The probe follows Senate Republicans’ October 2022 report which stated that the “most likely” origin was a “research-related incident” in China.
“We have concerns about (Wuhan), and the type of research and studies that were taking place there,” said the committee chair Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), who requested the HHS records. “So, we do want to dig in to that.”
Wenstrup is also looking into former chief medical advisor to the president Anthony Fauci, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Beccera, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.