Friday, 19 July, 2024
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Wuhan virus escape probably accidental – US agencies

The US Energy Department has reversed its previous position and used new research to conclude that the Covid-19 virus more than likely leaked from a Chinese research lab, the consensus being issued in an update to a 2021 document prepared by the country’s director of National Intelligence and recently provided to White House lawmakers.

The Energy Department has joined the FBI in saying the virus probably spread from a lab in Wuhan, although four other agencies still, apparently, favour the “natural spillover” theory that the virus escaped via an animal at a nearby meat market. Two agencies, one of which is the CIA, are yet to declare a definitive position, reports the Daily Mail.

The Energy Department’s change of tune is important because the agency is known for its expertise and oversees various US laboratories, some of which carry out biological research.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the FBI concluded in 2021 that the virus leaked from a lab and said it did so with “moderate confidence”. The Energy Department has switched its position and done so with “low confidence”.

US officials said that although both departments are in agreement, they formed their conclusions for different reasons.

The FBI also has expertise in disease and virology as it hires microbiologists and immunologists as part of its efforts to protect the country against bioterrorism and weapons.

The government officials who revealed the Energy Department’s change of stance would not comment on what new intelligence its conclusion was based.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said: ”Right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question.”

In January, the US Office of Inspector General openly criticised the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for failing to properly keep up with US-funded virus experiments in China in the run-up to the outbreak.

The federal audit looked at three taxpayer-funded research grants awarded to EcoHealth Alliance, run by British scientist Peter Daszak, between 2014 and 2021.

It found the NIH and EcoHealth failed to “understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action”.

“With improved oversight, NIH may have been able to take more timely corrective actions to mitigate the inherent risks associated with this type of research,” the report added.

While the lab leak theory was initially dismissed as conspiracy and xenophobic, a growing number of scientists have accepted the idea that the virus may have escaped during an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The research facility is less than 8km from an animal slaughter market where the first series of human cases were clustered. Some experts also claim Covid’s unique spike protein, which it uses to infect people, shows hallmarks of engineering.

But others have deemed those scenarios unlikely and say that there is some indirect evidence that Covid did, in fact, jump from animals at the Huanan Seafood Market, where animals, including raccoon dogs, hedgehogs, rats and squirrels, and known to harbour Covid, were kept in squalid conditions.

Direct evidence for a natural or man-made origin has not been publicised.

 

Wall Street Journal article – Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says (Restricted access)

 

Daily Mail article – Covid DID leak from Wuhan virus lab, Energy Department concludes: Bombshell new intelligence dismisses animal origin theory and says virus escape was likely accidental (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Wuhan scientists planned to release coronavirus into bat caves: Leaked papers

 

Biden shuts down US State efforts to find a Wuhan lab leak

 

Coded messages add to COVID lab leak theory, say specialists

 

 

 

 

 

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