US Department of Energy believes lab leak is most likely theory for Covid’s origins
We want to thank the Morning Brew.
Nearly three years after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down much of the world, we still don’t know how it started.
But the Department of Energy is ready to submit its best guess. In a new report based on fresh intelligence, the agency has concluded that Covid-19 most likely spread to humans as a result of a mistake at a Chinese laboratory (aka the “lab leak” theory), the WSJ reports.
Important note: In making this determination, the Energy Dept. is about as self-assured as any Michael Cera character—it reportedly has “low confidence” that this theory is correct.
Also, why would the Energy Dept. have information about a pandemic’s origins? Little-known fact: The Energy Dept. oversees a network of 17 national laboratories, and some of those labs do advanced bioresearch. The agency frequently leverages this lab network to gather information, rather than relying on typical intelligence operations, according to the NYT.
But there’s still no consensus
In endorsing the lab leak theory, the Energy Dept. joins the FBI, which has concluded with “moderate confidence” that Covid originated accidentally from a Chinese lab: the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The two agencies reportedly arrived at this conclusion via different methods.
However, four other US agencies and the National Intelligence Council have concluded that Covid originated through natural transmission from an infected animal. But they, too, have low confidence their conclusions are correct.
One piece of evidence that’s missing from the natural transmission theory? The animal that hypothetically did the infecting hasn’t been identified. Given all this uncertainty, two other US agencies haven’t reached a conclusion on Covid’s beginnings yet.
So, if you’re doing the math at home: Four US agencies believe it was natural transmission, two say lab leak, and two are undecided.
Zoom out: Scientists say it’s important to make every effort to learn how Covid-19, a pandemic that’s caused nearly 7 million deaths globally, began, so we can better prevent the next one.
But with the Chinese government (Joe and Hunter’s best buds) thwarting investigations by global authorities, there may only be so much information the US can gather. And it might never be able to confidently answer the question: How did Covid begin? Edited.