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Intel Agencies Split over COVID-19 Origin, in Long-Awaited Report

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Outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, February 3, 2021 (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

A newly declassified U.S. intel report on the origins of the novel coronavirus reveals that one intelligence agency has assessed with moderate confidence that the virus emerged from a lab-leak, while four others assessed with low confidence that COVID-19 originated from natural exposure to an infected animal.

The report says that the intelligence community “remains divided on the most likely origin of COVID-19” and that “all agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: 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 allows them to determine the specific pathway for initial natural contact with an animal or to determine that a laboratory in Wuhan was handling SARS-CoV-2 or a close progenitor virus before COVID-19 emerged,” the report adds.

It says that China’s cooperation “most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19.”

“Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States,” the report reads. “These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead as well as its frustration the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China.”

The report comes after President Biden in May tasked the intelligence community with redoubling their investigative efforts to bring the U.S. closer to a “definitive conclusion” within 90 days.

“I am grateful for the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals, and while this review has concluded, our efforts to understand the origins of this pandemic will not rest,” Biden said in a statement on Friday. “We will do everything we can to trace the roots of this outbreak that has caused so much pain and death around the world, so that we can take every necessary precaution to prevent it from happening again.”

Biden added: Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in

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