U.S. intelligence community report inconclusive on COVID-19 origin

Beijing continues to hinder the global investigation, the report authors noted.
US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testifies on April 29, 2021, at a Senate Armed Services committee hearing on worldwide threats, in Washington, DC.

The U.S. intelligence community released an inconclusive report on Friday regarding the origins of COVID-19, adding that it would require more information from China to determine the source of the virus.

According to the unclassified summary, the intelligence community (IC) "assesses that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December 2019."

They determined that "the virus was not developed as a biological weapon."

"Most agencies also assess with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered; however, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way," the report read.

The intelligence community also assessed that "China's officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged."

The agencies also believe that there are two possibilities regarding the origin of COVID-19: "natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident."

"The IC judges they will be unable to provide a more definitive explanation for the origin of COVID-19 unless new information" arises that points to either of the two possible origins.

"China's cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19," according to the report. "Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States."

President Biden gave a statement following the release of the report that he had set a 90-day deadline for, saying that "government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it. To this day, the PRC continues to reject calls for transparency and withhold information, even as the toll of this pandemic continue to rise."

"The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them," the statement continued. "Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world. Pandemics do not respect international borders, and we all must better understand how COVID-19 came to be in order to prevent further pandemics."