White House distances itself from Covid ‘lab-leak’ theory
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has rejected a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report which stated that a US Department of Energy study concluded that the Covid-19 pandemic was likely the result of a failure of safety practices at a laboratory in China, stating that there is “not a definitive answer” as to the true origins of the virus.
The paper claimed on Sunday that the Department of Energy had viewed “new intelligence” which led them to believe that Covid-19 wasn’t naturally produced in the environment, but rather the result of a so-called ‘lab-leak’ – but it added that it has “low confidence” in its findings.
Responding to the WSJ report, Sullivan said that President Joe Biden has ordered a full investigation into the potential origins of Covid-19 but he stressed the various governmental bodies looking into the matter have yet to reach a unanimous verdict.
“President Biden has directed, repeatedly, every element of our intelligence community to put effort and resources behind getting to the bottom of this question,” Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.
“If we gain any further insight or information, we will share it with Congress, and we will share it with the American people. But right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question.”
The virus was first reported to have been discovered in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, an area which also features a prominent virology institute which is an active research center for the study of coronaviruses.
The FBI has also backed the lab-leak theory but four other US agencies have determined that natural transmission was the more likely source of the virus. Two other agencies are currently undecided, according to the WSJ.
Last year, extensive studies conducted by the peer-reviewed ‘Science’ journal determined that the initial virus was very likely transmitted to a human from an animal at one of Wuhan’s wet markets.
Further studies into the lab-leak theory are expected to take place in the US in the coming weeks and months, after several Republican lawmakers included investigations into the pandemic’s origins among the key pledges on the campaign trail ahead of last November’s midterm elections.