Over three years, investigations The origin of the virus centers on a pair of dueling hypotheses: natural spillover from infected animals to humans and the “laboratory spillover” theory. The latter The site says the virus leaked from a lab where researchers were studying the coronavirus — in Wuhan, China The first cases of the unusual, highly contagious respiratory disease were reported in December 2019.
In May 2021, President Biden instructed US intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the virus, based on their own classified information, including the Chinese government’s response to the outbreak. Intelligence officials said the agencies had not previously reached a consensus, although most of them favored a natural origin scenario.
The New reportIt was required by law and Released Friday evening, adds little Those earlier estimates remain unchanged, but this one addresses some specific potential links raised by lab leak proponents.
The report mainly focuses on possible links between the epidemic and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which includes collaborations between civilian institute researchers and China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army. WIV was conducting extensive research on coronaviruses.
“Some of the research conducted by the PLA and WIV has found several viruses, including coronaviruses, but no known viruses that could be the precursor to SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid,” the intelligence agencies found. 19, according to a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Acknowledging the research conducted in the laboratory, including animal modeling and genetic analysis, “we have no indication that SARS-CoV-2 or a close precursor or a specific direct source was present in pre-pandemic research of WIV. A research-related incident involving WIV personnel occurred prior to the pandemic that could have caused the COVID pandemic,” the investigative report found.
Some Media reports And Republican-led investigations have suggested a biosecurity incident at the Wuhan lab in 2019, citing official Chinese Communist Party statements and translations of training sessions for lab workers.
But while a U.S. intelligence assessment acknowledged that some lab workers “at least some of the time did not use adequate biosafety precautions” before the outbreak, U.S. officials say they could not make a link between those practices and the origin of Covid-19. .
“A specific biosecurity incident at WIV triggered the outbreak and WIV’s biosecurity training appears to be routine rather than an emergency response by China’s leadership,” the ODNI report said.
Despite warnings from other Chinese scientists, Wuhan researchers spent years testing coronaviruses in labs that lacked the proper protective equipment to handle the pathogens, known for their ability to “directly infect humans through their spike protein.” Additionally, a safety inspection in early 2020 It found problems with aging equipment and inadequate disinfectants and ventilation equipment.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
By early 2020, scientists had generally dismissed the possibility of a lab leak, arguing instead that the virus may have spread from animals to humans.
“We don’t believe any kind of laboratory-based scenario is plausible,” said five prominent virologists. wrote March 2020 in Nature Medicine. That article — titled “The Proximate Origin of SARS-CoV-2” — helped influence subsequent news coverage of the pandemic and later led to questions about the origin of the virus by U.S. officials.
Other researchers have also concluded that the epidemic may have started in a nearby Wuhan market. First cases An unusual pneumonia was reported. But those reassurances have failed to quell the frenzied debate about the virus’ origins, and some scientists say recent efforts to declare the market the clear starting point of the epidemic — including a recent analysis that suggested raccoon dogs may have been bred in a Wuhan market. Linked to first covid cases – needed further study and eventually backtracked.
There are several authors behind the “Proximity Origin” paper from That suggested their earlier conclusion about the lack of a reliable laboratory origin of Covid-19 might be too harsh.
Congress party Did the US government inadvertently contribute to the pandemic by funding coronavirus research in China, and Anthony S. Republicans have opened up investigations into scientists improperly colluding with federal officials like Fauci to shape their conclusions about the origin of the virus.
Fauci declined to comment.
A House committee to examine the Covid response on Friday Solicitor Christian Anderson, Scripps Research Scientist and One of the authors of the Proximal Origins paper requests additional documentation.
“Dr. Christian Anderson was instrumental in suppressing the lab leak hypothesis, and Americans deserve to know why this happened, who was involved, and how we can prevent the deliberate suppression of scientific discourse during future pandemics. -Ohio), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, said in a statement.
Scripps Research He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democrats have criticized Republicans for focusing on the origins of the virus, saying their studies have focused too much on partisan politics and not enough on public health.
“Instead of elevating the question of the origin of the epidemic to advance a politically driven narrative, we should consider – to the best of our ability – comprehensively, rigorously and objectively all possible possibilities of how the virus emerged. So our findings can inform good policies to prevent and better prepare for the next pandemic,” Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Covid panel, wrote on June 8. Letter To Wenstrup shared with The Washington Post.
Proponents of the laboratory spill theory point to what they consider circumstantial but compelling evidence.
They note that Wuhan is a leading research center for coronaviruses. In the years before the outbreak of Covid-19, scientists in Wuhan collected, analyzed and tested thousands of unknown coronaviruses, many of which were isolated from bats native to China’s southern provinces. At the time of the outbreak, Chinese scientists acknowledged widespread safety problems in the country’s laboratories, flaws that could, in theory, lead to accidental exposures to dangerous viruses.
John Radcliffe, who served as director of national intelligence in the Trump administration and was privy to classified information about the virus, said in a statement that “the only theory supported by science, intelligence and common sense is a lab leak.” “In contrast, four years later, there is nothing linking this virus to anything in nature — no environmental source, no intermediate host or animal species.”
“The Biden administration’s continued obfuscation of the source of Covid is an insult to the intelligence community, appeases the Chinese Communist Party, and denies justice to the millions of Americans who have lost loved ones to this deadly virus,” Ratcliffe said.
There is no public evidence of a lab leak, and there is no record that any of Wuhan’s labs contained the SARS-CoV-2 strain that causes Covid-19, although Chinese authorities have never released a list of the coronaviruses studied until late 2019. The intelligence assessment also concludes that the Wuhan lab “first harbored SARS-CoV-2 in late December 2019, when WIV researchers isolated and identified the virus from samples from patients diagnosed with pneumonia of unknown origin.”
Beijing has refused to release detailed records of scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who reportedly fell ill with flu-like symptoms in November 2019. News reports in recent weeks — including from China’s top coronavirus experts — have questioned scientists. “Patient Zero” of the outbreak.
Scientists have vehemently denied these reports, saying they have not been infected with Covid-19 and have never worked with live viruses in the laboratory.
U.S. officials said they could not find a link between the sick researchers and the lab leak, and some sick researchers were confirmed to have other illnesses. “We have no indication that any of these researchers were hospitalized due to symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” the intelligence report concludes.