US intelligence divided on origin of Covid-19 after Biden orders a probe

A statement given by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence(ODNI), has exposed the divisions within the US intelligence community with regards to the origin of Covid-19. While two of the agencies believe that the virus came naturally after getting transferred from an infected animal to a human, the third one thinks that a lab accident could have been the source of the pandemic. It may be recalled that on Wednesday, Biden had asked the intelligence community to probe the origin of the virus.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence(ODNI) in a statement stated, “The US Intelligence Community does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially but has coalesced around two likely scenarios.” The two likely scenarios are –

First, that the virus originated in an animal and spread after human contact with such an infected animal.

Second, that the virus is not natural and an accident at a laboratory led to the pandemic.

However, the Office also said that the agencies do not have enough information to assess both the possibilities. The point was  repeated by Amanda Schoch, Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Strategic Communications, who said, “While two elements of the IC(Intelligence Community) lean toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter.” She went on to say that both the groups have low or moderate confidence to back their theory and also that there is no sufficient information to declare one more likely than the other.

The three intelligence agencies involved in the probe are – Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) and National Security Agency(NSA).

US President Joe Biden had on Wednesday tasked the intelligence agencies with the job of ascertaining the origin of the virus and preparing a report for him within 90 days. “As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China,” the President had said.

The probe into the origin of the virus is followed after the Wall Street Journal had reported that three lab workers in Wuhan were severely sick and were hospitalized in November 2019 as they had caused coronavirus infection. The report hinted that the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan.

In response to the report by the Wall Street Journal, Chinese authorities had declined any such incidents to have taken place. They went on term the whole report as “baseless.”

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