U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the novel coronavirus which caused the COVID-19 pandemic was not manmade or genetically modified, but they’re still investigating whether the virus spread as the result of a lab accident or through human contact with animals.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) issued Thursday’s statement on behalf of U.S. spy agencies. It follows months of speculation and unfounded conspiracy theories about the origin of the new virus, which is officially known as SARS-CoV-2.
“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security,” the statement said. “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”
“The IC (intelligence community) will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the statement said.
The Chinese government first reported the virus outbreak on December 31 in connection with a wet market in Wuhan, but several news outlets have claimed the virus may have been released as the result of an accident at an infectious disease lab in the city. These reports, however, have not been confirmed.
Most of the world has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, infecting at least 3.2 million people and putting many countries on lockdown. More than 230,000 deaths have been linked to COVID-19, with the majority of deaths in the U.S., Spain, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom.