The U.S. intelligence community is seriously examining the possibility that the novel coronavirus could have entered the human population in Wuhan due to a laboratory accident, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed in a statement Thursday.
“The [Intelligence Community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the ODNI’s statement read.
The ODNI also said it agrees with the widespread scientific consensus that the novel coronavirus “was not manmade or genetically modified,” a blow to the conspiracy theory that the virus is a Chinese-manufactured bioweapon.
Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/MIPr6LVzU4
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) April 30, 2020
The statement followed multiple news reports from mid-April that the intelligence community was investigating whether the virus, which has infected more than 3 million people worldwide and killed 229,000, could have been accidentally released from a research lab in Wuhan that was known to be studying bat-based coronaviruses. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Coronavirus Expert Says Virus Could Have Leaked From Wuhan Lab)
Sources briefed on the details of China’s early actions on the virus told Fox News that the outbreak likely originated from a lab in Wuhan as part of China’s efforts to demonstrate its ability to identify and combat viruses was greater than that of the United States.
One source told Fox News the actions of the Chinese government may be the “costliest government cover-up of all time.”
China’s top virologist on bat-borne viruses, Shi Zhengli, told the Scientific American in March that she frantically searched for evidence that any records in her lab in Wuhan could have been mishandled upon learning of the coronavirus outbreak in the city in late December 2019.
“Could they have come from her lab?” she recalled thinking, adding that she “never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.”
Shi now adamantly denies that the novel coronavirus could have leaked from her lab in Wuhan.
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