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Lab leak most likely origin of COVID-19 pandemic: U.S. Energy Department

The U.S. Energy Department has reached the conclusion that the COVID pandemic most likely originated from a laboratory leak, according to a classified intelligence report recently presented to the White House and key members of Congress.

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The official stance from the Energy Department had previously been uncertain as to how the virus emerged, as noted in an update to a 2021 document by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office.

The recent report highlights how various sectors of the intelligence community have arrived at different judgments about the pandemic’s origin. The Energy Department is now aligned with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in stating that the virus was probably spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory.

The FBI previously reached the conclusion that the pandemic began with a lab leak in 2021 with “moderate confidence”, a view which they maintain.

Thus far U.S. officials have not offered up details about the latest intelligence and analysis that led the Energy Department to change its position. However, it has been stated that despite the Energy Department and the FBI both reaching the same judgement, they arrived at their conclusions for different reasons.

The COVID-19 virus first circulated in Wuhan, China, no later than November 2019, according to the U.S. 2021 intelligence report. The pandemic’s origin has been the subject of vigorous debate among academics, intelligence experts, and lawmakers.

The emergence of the pandemic increased tensions between the U.S. and China, which the U.S. had alleged was withholding information about the outbreak.

There was much debate as to the genesis of the pandemic. Initially, the most promulgated view was that the virus likely arose naturally when the virus was transferred from an animal to a human, as had happened in the past.

However, no evidence of an animal host was discovered and subsequently, there has been a greater focus on coronavirus research in Wuhan and the potential for an accidental laboratory leak.

Evidence produced by intelligence agencies has shown that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had imported bat coronaviruses from areas of China which are the most similar viruses to COVID-19.

It has now also come to light that the institute applied for funding to manipulate viruses by inserting a furin cleavage site (FCS) which is what makes COVID-19 so infectious in humans.

In November of 2022, evidence was discovered by a British investigative journalist via email leaks that some of the UK’s top scientists were warned that COVID-19 could have evolved in laboratory animals, but collaborated in producing a paper that stifled the lab leak theory.

The paper in question, ‘The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2’ was published in Nature Medicine in March 2020, and made the case for a natural spillover event being the root cause of the pandemic. The paper played a very significant role in preventing a broader discussion into the origins of the virus.

The email leaks revealed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had been carrying out research on bat coronaviruses at worrying levels of biosecurity that had been specifically highlighted to them.

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