The U.S. Energy Department concluded the Covid-19 pandemic likely started with a laboratory leak in Wuhan, China – an assessment Beijing denies. And there’s disagreement within the federal government, too. >> Full story
Jonathan: Three years ago this winter, the coronavirus pandemic started rapidly spreading around the world, and as of today has killed over 6.8 million people.
But how did it all start? Our Washington correspondent Angie reports.
Angie: Three years ago, a dangerous virus leaking out of a science lab causing a global pandemic that killed millions would have probably sounded like a science fiction novel.
But now, some parts of our government believe that actually might be how the COVID-19 pandemic started.
This weekend, news outlets reported new intelligence has led the U.S. Department of Energy to conclude the pandemic “likely” began after the COVID virus accidentally leaked out of a laboratory in Wuhan, China. While media also report the Energy Department’s conclusion was made with “low confidence,” they now appear to agree with the F.B.I., who concluded with “moderate confidence” in 2021 that the pandemic was caused by a lab leak.
Wuhan, China, is home to several science labs that study things like viruses for disease controls and vaccine production, and in a lab leak, a dangerous pathogen — something like the COVID-19 virus — could have made its way out of a secure facility into the general population.
But many experts remain firmly divided as to whether or not this lab leak theory is correct.
Other U.S. agencies still believe COVID-19 emerged as an animal illness that somehow jumped to humans, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told C.N.N. that there’s no definitive answer yet to what started the pandemic.
Sound: Sullivan: “Some elements of the intelligence community have reached conclusions on one side, some on the other. A number of them have said that they just don’t have enough information to be sure.”
In response to the report, China accused the U.S. of politicizing the pandemic.
The country has long denied that COVID emerged from a laboratory. Experts say understanding how this pandemic started is helpful in preventing future pandemics.