News & Politics

Halfway Into COVID Origins Investigation, Few Minds Have Changed

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

U.S. intelligence agencies are halfway through the 90-day review of all information they have about the origins of the coronavirus and few minds have changed.

While the lab-leak theory has gained credibility inside the Biden administration, very little new evidence has emerged that would solve the mystery.

In fact, administration officials are saying that the theory of a naturally occurring virus is just as credible as a lab leak.

Most disease detectives who are publicly investigating the origins of the virus still dismiss the idea that a manufactured coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. But what about a naturally occurring coronavirus that accidentally leaked from the lab? There are several scenarios that can’t be dismissed simply because it’s never happened before.


While many individual officials hold their own personal opinions as to the likely origin of the pandemic, with some finding the lab leak theory more credible than others as they continue to receive and interpret the intelligence, people familiar with the probe said no one official’s opinion is driving the pace or direction of the overall review.

Political appointees have sought to give the intelligence community and national labs wide latitude to complete the review without dictating their findings, and US officials say CIA Director Bill Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and other top intelligence officials are getting regular briefings on the progress.

The intelligence investigators are not breaking much new ground.

The intelligence community has also been consulting with outside experts and examining raw information that may have been missed— including information the State Department had collected in the Trump administration — and analyzing more open source information, such as peer reviewed studies out of China, said a source with knowledge of the probe.

The information that Donald Trump’s State Department had collected and published back in early January was summarily dismissed by the mainstream media. But it included the damning evidence that some of the first cases of COVID-19 may have involved infected Wuhan lab workers. It’s not a smoking gun but it contradicted the Chinese narrative on the origins and raised questions about what else Beijing wasn’t telling us.

The person familiar with the probe said there will likely not be a definitive answer as to Covid’s origins at the end of the 90-day review— instead, any final assessment will likely lay out both theories and evaluate their pros and cons. The source said the relationship with China is too delicate to make an endorsement of one theory over another without smoking gun evidence, which doesn’t exist right now.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said in June, “As I’ve listened to the analysts, I really see why it is that they perceive these two theories as being in contest with each other, and why it’s very challenging for them to assess one over the other.”

Chinese officials will be able to continue their stonewalling on the origins of the coronavirus because there’s nothing anyone — including the United States — can do to force the truth out of them. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Fox News that the Biden administration would attempt to “isolate” China if they don’t cooperate in the investigation.

How do you “isolate” a nation with a $15 trillion economy? These are empty threats and Sullivan knows it. Far more likely is that the world goes back to conducting business as usual with China and everyone pretends that the coronavirus was naturally occurring and made the jump from bats to humans.