‘Either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident’

Intelligence community ' does not know' how Covid-19 originated
Originally Published: 27 MAY 21 13:35 ET

(CNN) — The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Thursday that the intelligence community is still working to determine how Covid-19 originated but reiterated the two working theories: “either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident.”

In the statement, ODNI spokesperson Amanda Schoch repeated what President Joe Biden said on Wednesday, that there is a difference of opinion among various intelligence agencies and their degrees of confidence in the theories.

“While two elements of the IC lean toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter — each with low or moderate confidence — the majority of elements within the IC do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” Schoch said.

The statement is notable because it shows that the intelligence community has made little progress in uncovering the origins of the virus since its first statement on the subject in April last year.

In a congressional hearing last month, DNI Avril Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee that US intelligence agencies still do not know “exactly where, when or how Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially” in China.

Biden on Wednesday ordered an intelligence assessment within 90 days on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was pressure on the administration to address the issue after recent Wall Street Journal and CNN reporting on new information that underscored the plausibility of the lab theory, as well as new comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci — Biden’s chief medical adviser — that acknowledged he and other scientists may have been too definitive in previous public statements dismissing that possibility.

There has also been pressure from Congress on Biden to delve deeper into the origin of Covid-19, as the Chinese government has maintained that the virus originated and spread naturally.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Wednesday called for “clear answers” from the intelligence community on the origins of coronavirus and said her panel would explore any additional options it could take.

Also on Wednesday, legislation backed by Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana passed by unanimous consent requiring the Biden administration, specifically Haines, to declassify any intelligence relating to links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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