U.S. Federal Research Facility Reportedly Found Covid-19 Lab Leak Theory To Be Plausible
A report on Covid-19’s origins prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California concluded that the theory claiming the virus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan was plausible and deserved further investigation, the Wall Street Journalreported on Tuesday, amid renewed interest about the origin of the pandemic.
According to the Journal, the report prepared by the federal research facility was referred to by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the virus’ origins during the last months of the Trump administration.
The classified report—published on May 27, 2020—is attracting fresh scrutiny in Congress now that President Joe Biden has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to look into the origin of the pandemic.
The report is said to have been prepared by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s intelligence arm, also known as the “Z Division,” and its assessment drew on genomic analysis of the virus that causes Covid-19.
While Biden hasn’t referenced the Lawrence Livermore report, he has noted that U.S. national laboratories overseen by the Energy Department will assist intelligence agencies in their investigations into the virus’ origins.
“The most important reason we have to get to the bottom of this is that’s the only way we’re going to be able to prevent the next pandemic or at least do a better job in mitigating it,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken toldAxios in an interview on Sunday. Noting that China had not been as transparent as expected he added: “That has to happen…it’s profoundly in China’s interest to do this, as well.”
Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci called on the Chinese government to release medical records of three researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology who fell ill in November 2019—weeks before the first reported case of Covid-19—according to a U.S. intelligence report. Fauci also called on Beijing to release the medical records of six miners who fell ill in 2012 after entering a bat cave—three of whom died—as scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology later visited the cave to collect samples from the bats. Fauci noted that the medical records may be able to provide vital information on the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak. The infectious disease official, however, said that he feels it’s overwhelmingly likely that the virus jumped to humans from animals but added that investigations need to continue until a possibility is proven.
The origin of the Covid-19 outbreak is still unknown, with scientists, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and politicians pushing for a new, more thorough investigation into how it emerged. An investigation led by the WHO earlier this year zeroed in on animal markets as a probable source. Several scientists, including Fauci, believe that the virus probably jumped from bats to humans through an intermediate animal host. However, the lab leak theory—initially pushed by fringe groups—has seen a rise in mainstream interest after President Joe Biden last month ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to examine the origin of the pandemic. The White House has noted that the intelligence agencies have two prevailing theories with two branches believing that it was transmitted from animals, while another branch believes it came from the Wuhan lab. The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and many believe it may have originated from the city’s live animal markets. The Chinese government, however, has tried to push its own theory that the virus was imported into the country through frozen food.