US intel doesn’t expect to determine origins of COVID-19

Oct 28, 2021, 11:44 PM | Updated: Oct 30, 2021, 5:01 am
FILe - Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines introduces President Joe Biden during a visit...

FILe - Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines introduces President Joe Biden during a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Va., on July 27, 2021. U.S. intelligence agencies say they likely won't ever be able to conclude whether COVID-19 spread by animal-to-human transmission or leaked from a lab. The Director of National Intelligence issued a paper Friday, Oct. 29, that elaborates on findings released in August of a 90-day review ordered by Biden. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Barring an unforeseen breakthrough, intelligence agencies won’t be able to conclude whether COVID-19 spread by animal-to-human transmission or leaked from a lab, officials said Friday in releasing a fuller version of their review into the origins of the pandemic.

The paper issued by the Director of National Intelligence elaborates on findings released in August of a 90-day review ordered by President Joe Biden. That review said that U.S. intelligence agencies were divided on the origins of the virus but that analysts do not believe the virus was developed as a bioweapon and that most agencies believe the virus was not genetically engineered.

China has resisted global pressure to cooperate fully with investigations into the pandemic or provide access to genetic sequences of coronaviruses kept at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which remains a subject of speculation for its research and reported safety problems. Biden launched the review amid growing momentum for the theory — initially broadly dismissed by experts — that the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab. Former President Donald Trump and his supporters long argued that a lab leak was possible as they sought to deflect criticism of his handling of the pandemic.

China remains an exceedingly difficult place for intelligence operations and has fought back against allegations that it mishandled the emergence of the pandemic, which has killed 5 million people worldwide. Senior officials involved in the full report’s drafting said they hoped it would better inform the public about the challenges of determining the virus’s origins.

“We don’t think we’re one or two reports away from being able to understand it,” said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The full report notes that the Wuhan Institute of Virology “previously created chimeras, or combinations, of SARS-like coronaviruses, but this information does not provide insight into whether SARS Cov-2 was genetically engineered by the WIV.”

Information that lab researchers sought medical treatment for a respiratory illness in November 2019 “is not diagnostic of the pandemic’s origins,” the report said.

And allegations that China launched the virus as a bioweapon were dismissed because their proponents “do not have direct access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” are making scientifically invalid claims or are accused of spreading disinformation, the report said.

Four agencies within the intelligence community said with low confidence that the virus was initially transmitted from an animal to a human. A fifth intelligence agency believed with moderate confidence that the first human infection was linked to a lab.

Prior to writing the report, analysts conducted what the report describes as a “Team A/Team B” debate to try to strengthen or weaken each hypothesis.

The report identifies types of data that investigators still want China to provide access to, including records and tissue samples from several markets in Wuhan, including the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, Qiyimen Live Animal Market, Dijiao Outdoor Pet Market and others. Scientists originally believed the virus emerged from animals sold at the Huanan market, which has since been ruled out by some as the origin site.

Confirming with 100% certainty the origin of a virus is often not fast, easy or always even possible.

In the case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS — a disease caused by a beta coronavirus, like the current coronavirus — researchers first identified the virus in February 2003. Later that year, scientists discovered the likely intermediary hosts: Himalayan palm civets found at live-animal markets in Guangdong, China. But it wasn’t until 2017 that researchers traced the likely original source of the virus to bat caves in China’s Yunnan province.

___

Associated Press writer Christina Larson in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Rains start to pour as Typhoon Noru approaches Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. The pow...
Associated Press

Powerful typhoon leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Typhoon Noru blew out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving five rescuers dead, causing floods and power outages and forcing officials to suspend classes and government work in the capital and outlying provinces. The most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year slammed into the coast in Burdeos town […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka toast each other...
Associated Press

Japanese leader’s trip to China in ’72 was diplomatic gamble

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese leader who normalized relations with China 50 years ago feared for his life when he flew to Beijing for the high-stakes negotiations at the height of the Cold War, according to his daughter, a former Japanese foreign minister. Kakuei Tanaka’s mission to normalize relations with China just two months after […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Ex...
Associated Press

Musk faces deposition with Twitter ahead of October trial

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk is scheduled to spend the next few days with lawyers for Twitter, answering questions ahead of an October trial that will determine whether he must carry through with his $44 billion agreement to acquire the social platform after attempting to back out of the deal. The deposition, […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Gov. Phil Bryant speaks about his legacy following a life of public service, Jan. 8, 2020, i...
Associated Press

Texts: Favre also sought welfare money for football facility

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — After Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on Brett Favre’s pet project, a university volleyball arena, the retired NFL quarterback tried two years later to get additional cash from the state’s welfare agency for another sports facility, new court documents show. The governor at the time, Republican Phil Bryant, […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Man arrested in California plotted mass shooting

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — A 37-year-old man was arrested Sunday in Northern California on suspicion of threatening to kill police officers and planning a “Las Vegas-style” mass shooting, authorities said. The suspect was taken into custody by SWAT officers at a Super 8 motel in Chico after detectives obtained evidence of his plot, according to […]
20 hours ago
A sedan is wedged between a small, black pickup truck and the Bagel Time Cafe in Wildwood, N.J., ea...
Associated Press

Official: 2 killed amid crashes during pop-up NJ car rally

WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — A pop-up car rally over the weekend in southern New Jersey led to multiple crashes and the deaths of at least two people riding in a golf cart, officials say. Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron told NJ Advance Media on Sunday that there were a series of car crashes related to the […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
US intel doesn’t expect to determine origins of COVID-19