COVID-19 likely came from lab leak in China, Department of Energy says in report

China disputes the lab leak theory report from the U.S. Department of Energy. (Source: CNN/AFPTV/CCTV/GUANCHA.CN/CAS/WUHAN TV/DEFENSE DEPARTMENT/TV2CNN/TV2)
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 5:47 AM CST
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(Gray News) - The Department of Energy said in a new report that the COVID-19 pandemic most likely came from a laboratory leak in China.

A senior U.S. intelligence official told the Wall Street Journal that new information caused the department to make the updated low confidence assessment.

U.S. government officials have been divided over whether the pandemic was caused by a Chinese lab leak or emerged naturally from the wild.

Intelligence agencies can make assessments with either low, medium or high confidence, CNN reported. A low confidence assessment generally means that the information obtained is not reliable enough or that there isn’t enough information to strengthen the assessment.

Gary Locke, former U.S. Ambassador to China, explains why scientists need to know where COVID came from. (Source: CNN)

In a report declassified in 2021, it was revealed that four agencies in the intelligence community made low confidence assessments that the virus likely jumped from animals to humans naturally in the wild, while one assessed with moderate confidence that the virus was the result of a laboratory accident.

Three other agencies said they needed more information before making an assessment.

The intelligence community has noted repeatedly that a lack of cooperation from Beijing has made it difficult to get to the bottom of the question of where COVID-19 originated.

The assessment comes as Republicans on Capitol Hill have been pushing for further investigation into the lab leak theory, and President Joe Biden has put resources into getting to the bottom of where and how the pandemic started.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 6.8 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. More than 1.1 million of those deaths occurred in the U.S.