U.S. intelligence agencies are divided

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Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on February 3, 2021.

Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community said Thursday that it was divided over the exact origin of Covid-19 in China, a revelation that comes three months after President Joe Biden requested a more in-depth review.

“After examining all available intelligence reporting and other information, though, the IC remains divided on the most likely origin of Covid-19. All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident,” the unclassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.

One intelligence agency reported moderate confidence that the virus-infected humans after an incident related to a lab. Four agencies said they had low confidence that the virus had a natural emergence, according to the report. It did not name the agencies.

In May, Biden ordered a closer intelligence review of what he described as two likely scenarios of the origins of the Covid-19.

In a statement Friday, Biden called on China to cooperate with investigators.

“Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it,” Biden said.

“The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them.”

It’s still unknown if the virus leaked out of a Wuhan lab, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said Monday in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” adding that the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origin of the coronavirus has gone “backwards.”

“The vast evidence from other perspectives says no, this was a naturally occurring virus,” Collins said. “Not to say that it could not have been under study secretly at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and got out of there, we don’t know about that. But the virus itself does not have the earmarks of having been created intentionally by human work.”

The WHO investigation has been made harder by China’s refusal to participate, says Collins.

“I think China basically refused to consider another WHO investigation and just said ‘nope not interested’,” Collins told CNBC’s Squawk Box.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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