A long-awaited declassified report on the origins of the coronavirus was released on Friday by US intelligence agencies. While it provided new details, it did not definitively state whether the virus originated from an infected animal or a “laboratory incident.”
The report stated that there is no direct evidence to support the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted from an incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. It emphasized that both the possibilities of an infected animal and a lab-related incident remain reasonable assumptions for the initial human infection.
The report revealed a “divergence” within US intelligence institutions. The National Intelligence Council and four unnamed agencies deemed natural exposure to an infected animal as the most likely cause of the virus’s spread. However, the Department of Energy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suggested a “lab leak” scenario as the most probable explanation for the first human infection.
The report did not identify the exact cause of the pandemic. It mentioned that intelligence agencies are still unable to rule out the possibility of the virus originating from a laboratory, but they have not been able to determine the precise source of the outbreak.
According to the report, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and another agency remain unable to pinpoint the exact source of the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on significant assumptions and facing challenges due to conflicting reports.
The report also argued that reports of respiratory symptoms among several Wuhan Institute researchers in late 2019 were inconclusive, as some of the symptoms did not align with those of COVID-19.
Almost all intelligence agencies agreed that the virus was not genetically engineered, and there was a consensus that COVID-19 was not intentionally manufactured as a biological weapon.