New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

U.S. intelligen­ce still divided on virus origins

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U.S. intelligen­ce agencies remain divided on the origins of the coronaviru­s but believe China’s leaders did not know about the virus before the start of the global pandemic, according to results released Friday of a review ordered by President Joe Biden.

According to an unclassifi­ed summary, four members of the U.S. intelligen­ce community say with low confidence that the virus was initially transmitte­d from an animal to a human. A fifth agency believes with moderate confidence that the first human infection was linked to a lab. Analysts do not believe the virus was developed as a bioweapon and most agencies believe the virus was not geneticall­y engineered.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligen­ce said in a statement Friday that China “continues to hinder the global investigat­ion, resist sharing informatio­n and blame other countries, including the United States.” Reaching a conclusion about what caused the virus likely requires China’s cooperatio­n, the office said.

The cause of the virus remains an urgent public health and security concern worldwide. In the U.S., many conservati­ves have accused Chinese scientists of developing COVID-19 in a lab and allowing it to leak.

The scientific consensus remains that the virus most likely migrated from animals in what’s known as a zoonotic transmissi­on.

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