The Energy Department Now Blames a Chinese Lab Leak for COVID


But not every U.S. government agency agrees.

  • The U.S. Energy Department was previously noncommittal on the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The U.S. government remains divided between blaming a lab leak or natural transmission as the source of the pandemic’s start.
  • The CIA is a key agency still undecided on where the virus originated.

    The U.S. Energy Department (DoE) joins the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the list of government agencies ready to blame a Chinese laboratory leak for the source of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper says a new classified intelligence report shows that the DoE has changed its position on the virus’s origins from undecided to blaming a lab leak. The FBI is the most high-profile U.S. agency to land on the lab leak source, and though the bureau has “moderate confidence” in the idea, the new DoE stance is only being taken with “low confidence.”

    Of course, “low confidence” is not reserved for believing that a lab leak was the source of the pandemic. The National Intelligence Council believes that the virus came through natural transmission, beginning with an animal, with that confidence level. There are four U.S. agencies that fall in this camp, while two others—including the CIA—are still undecided on the origins of the pandemic.

    The origins of COVID-19 were traced to Wuhan, China, by the World Health Organization, although China disputes such claims. Some researchers believed the virus started in an animal host and was transferred to humans. No animal host was discovered, so labs in Wuhan—the center of China’s research on coronavirus, with three prominent laboratories that have been cited by the U.S. State Department in 2018 of having less-than stringent safety procedures—became a prominent source of consideration.

    The theory of COVID starting from a Wuhan seafood market is now believed to simply be an example of the ability of the virus to spread quickly among humans.

    The DoE has entered the fray due to its oversight of national laboratories in the U.S., including some handling “advanced biological research.”

    The FBI has used its National Bioforensic Analysis Center in Maryland to analyze biological threats for years and has entire teams focused on the cases. They have the most confidence in the Chinese laboratory source.

    Neither the DoE or FBI are calling the lab leak intentional, and the WSJ reports that those who have read the classified report say there’s no belief COVID-19 was the result of a Chinese biological-weapons program.

    “President Biden specifically requested that the national labs, which are part of the Energy Department, be brought into this assessment because he wants to put every tool at use to be able to figure out what happened here,” Jake Sullivan, U.S. national security advisor, told CNN. He continued:

    “Right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question. Some elements of the intelligence community have reached conclusions on one side, some on the other. A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information to be sure.”

    “Kudos to those who are willing to set aside their preconceptions and objectively reexamine what we know and don’t know about Covid origins,” David Relman, Stanford University microbiologist, tells the WSJ. “My plea is that we not accept an incomplete answer or give up because of political expediency.”