US intelligence agencies gave Biden a report on the virus


According to US officials, the director of national intelligence gave a report to President Biden on the origins of the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, but the country’s spy agencies have yet to come to a conclusion as to whether the disease was the result of an accidental leak from a laboratory. It arose naturally by transmission from animals to humans.

There was Mr. Biden ordered the country’s intelligence agencies Three months ago to prepare a report on the origins of the virus, which has been the subject of intense debate, in part to give agencies a chance to examine it. an unused treasure trove of data.

However, the investigation, which examined data collected from a virology research institute in Wuhan, China, the city where the virus first spread, has not yet answered the most important question about where the virus came from. The lack of results underscores the difficulty of pinpointing the source of the virus, especially given China’s refusal to continue cooperating with international investigations into the origin of the coronavirus.

In the months after the pandemic began, intelligence agencies began investigating how it started. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo forced the agencies to look at the theory that the virus was created in a Chinese laboratory and accidentally leaked. Mr. Pompeo set up his own research group to examine the question.

During the Trump administration, intelligence agencies ruled out theories that the virus was deliberately leaked. But they said they couldn’t come to a conclusion as to what was more likely: accidental leaks from a lab researching coronaviruses, or the natural evolution of the virus?

While many scientists were initially skeptical of the lab leak theory, at least some have become more open to scrutiny this year. and some Criticized a World Health Organization report in March this made the lab leak theory unlikely.

After this report, Biden administration officials were frustrated by the Chinese government’s decision to cease cooperation with further research by the World Health Organization into the origins of the pandemic. In the face of Chinese intransigence and what they call a divided American intelligence community, Biden administration officials ordered a 90-day review of the intelligence, resulting in the report delivered to the president on Tuesday.

Current and former officials have repeatedly warned that finding the exact origins of the pandemic may be more of a job for scientists than spies. Agencies under Avril D. Haines, director of national intelligence, accelerated cooperation with scientists, hopes to better understand the current pandemic and the possible future pandemic.

Authorities also warned that the 90-day review was probably too short to draw any firm conclusions.

The report remains confidential for now, and officials will not discuss its findings. However, officials said Ms. Haines’ office will likely declassify some information later this week.

“I can’t speak to a confidential briefing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when journalists asked her about the report on Wednesday. “I know you want a non-confidential summary of what the intelligence community is trying to produce, and it will be made public as soon as it’s ready.”

When asked if the president would be satisfied if the investigation ended inconclusively, Ms Psaki said she was doing everything possible to uncover the truth.

“I can assure you that the President wants to get to the bottom of the root causes of Covid-19, which, as you have pointed out, has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and wishes more had been done before to get to the bottom and of course to save more lives,” he said.

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed to the reporting.


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