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The U.S. intelligence community said their investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic was inconclusive because of China’s refusal to cooperate.
The unclassified report was revealed on Friday, three months after President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence agencies to undertake the task.
“After examining all available intelligence reporting and other information, though, the IC remains divided on the most likely origin of Covid-19. All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident,” read the report from 18 agencies.
One agency, left unidentified, said that it had moderate confidence that the virus leaked from a laboratory to infect human beings. But three other agencies, also left unidentified, said that they had concluded with low confidence that the virus had a natural origin.
The report said that the virus was not developed as a biological weapon as some had suggested, and blamed China for the lack of complete evidence available.
“China’s cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19,” the report said. “Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States. 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.”
Health experts and many in the media had ridiculed voices questioning if the virus could have had an artificial source as conspiracy theorists until a group of online sleuths gathered enough evidence to force the issue. After more and more experts reluctantly admitted the possibility of the laboratory hypothesis, Biden gave U.S. agencies 90 days to collect and analyze the information available about the origins of the coronavirus.
China’s foreign ministry responded by threatening the U.S. prior to the release of the report.
“If they want to baselessly accuse China, they better be prepared to accept the counterattack from China,” said foreign ministry director general Fu Cong.