Federal agencies in the Biden administration are admitting that the COVID-19 virus may have originated from a Chinese lab leak despite outrage at the start of the pandemic that dismissed the lab leak theory as a conspiracy.
The so-called “lab leak theory” suggesting COVID came from an accidental lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, was widely dismissed as “misinformation” by Democrats, major news outlets, scientists and social media companies in the early stages of the pandemic.
Here’s where Biden’s federal and intelligence agencies stand today on the lab leak theory.
FBI Director Chris Wray told Fox News’ Bret Baier this week that COVID-19 “most likely” came from a Chinese lab.
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray told Fox News in an interview that aired Tuesday. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.
“I will just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing, the work that our U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing. And that’s unfortunate for everybody.”
The Energy Department, which had been undecided on the origin of the pandemic, concluded that the coronavirus most likely spread due to a mishap at a Chinese laboratory, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited a classified intelligence report provided to the White House and “key members of Congress.”
According to the Journal, DOE’s conclusion is the result of “new intelligence,” and the judgment was made with “low confidence.”
The agency is tasked with oversight of many of the government’s laboratories, including those that “conduct advance biological research,” the report said.
The shift in the Energy Department’s stance was reportedly noted in a classified 2021 document that was updated by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’ office.
Beyond the FBI and Energy Department, the National Intelligence Council and four other unnamed agencies assess at “low confidence” that the COVID-19 pandemic originated due to natural transmission from an infected animal, according to the Journal.
The CIA and another unnamed agency are reportedly still undecided.
The ODNI has not made an assessment about a lab leak, but in a separate declassified assessment on the origins of COVID-19 in October 2021, ODNI said SARS-CoV-2 was “probably not a biological weapon.”
“We remain skeptical of allegations that SARS-CoV-2 was a biological weapon because they are supported by scientifically invalid claims,” it added.
Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee alleged in a report released in December 2022 that there are “indications” COVID-19 could be tied to China’s biological weapons research program and “spilled over” to the general human population during an incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Contrary to the implication of the [intelligence community’s] declassified report, based on our investigation involving a variety of public and non-public information, we conclude that there are indications that SARS-CoV-2 may have been tied to China’s biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population during a lab-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” a summary of the report states.
“The IC failed to adequately address this information in its classified updated assessment. When we attempted to raise the issues with the IC, it failed to respond.”
The Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would require the Biden administration to declassify all intelligence related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and possible links to the origins of the COVID-19 virus in light of the weekend DOE report.
The House of Representatives is set to line up with the Senate on a bill led by Chairman Mike Gallagher of the newly-formed House Select Committee on China.
The White House’s John Kirby did not directly answer Fox News’ Peter Doocy Thursday when asked if Biden will sign a bill if it passes in the House too.
“I know I’ve seen press reporting about some preliminary findings of a classified nature, but there’s still no consensus, and that’s why the president has directed the team to stay at the work, because he wants to know. He wants to know as best we can know what the origins were so that we can work to better prevent a future pandemic,” Kirby said.