US report on COVID-19 origins finds lab leak theory 'plausible', calls for further investigation

·2-min read
Wuhan Institute of Virology in China
Wuhan Institute of Virology in China

Washington [US], June 8 (ANI): Amid widespread calls for a fresh probe into the origins of the coronavirus in China's Wuhan, a report on the origins of COVID-19 by a US government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis claiming that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan is "plausible" and deserves further investigation.

According to the people familiar with the classified document, the study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National National Laboratory in California and was drawn on by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic's origins last year, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The report is now attracting fresh interest in Congress now that President Joe Biden has ordered that US intelligence agencies report to him within weeks on how the virus emerged.

People familiar with the study have said that it was prepared by Lawrence Livermore's intelligence arm - 'Z Division'. Its assessment drew on genomic analysis of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The assessment is said to have been among the first US government efforts to seriously explore the theory that the virus leaked from a lab in China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

According to a person who read the document, it made a strong case for further inquiry into the possibility that the virus escaped from the lab, WSJ reports.

The study also had a major influence on the US State Department's probe into COVID-19 origins, whose officials reviewed it in October last year and asked for more information, according to the agency's arms control and verification bureau.

According to WSJ, the study was important because it came from a respected national laboratory and differed from the dominant view in spring 2020 that the virus almost certainly was first transmitted to humans via an infected animal, a former official involved in the State Department inquiry said.

The State Department's findings, which were vetted by US intelligence agencies, were made public in a January 15 fact sheet that listed a series of circumstantial reasons why the COVID-19 outbreak might have originated as a result of a lab accident.

The Wuhan lab leak theory has recently become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the origins of the virus.

The hypothesis that the virus was accidentally leaked from the lab was largely disregarded by scientists in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. China has repeatedly denied that the lab was responsible for the outbreak. (ANI)