The origins of the coronavirus pandemic have become a matter of distrust between two global powers. While China continued evincing that COVID emerged from a vet market selling animals, the US remains a doubting Thomas, and for all the right reasons.
The United States intelligence recently released a report prepared by 18 US spy agencies that concluded that the SARs COV-2 virus was not prepared in any laboratory of China as a biological weapon.
The report was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and says that the intelligence community of the country is still divided on the assumption that China developed COVID-19 as a biological weapon to be used for financial or political purposes.
President Joe Biden has also released a press statement saying that China is not cooperating with the investigation, while the report was rejected by the Foreign Ministry of China.
China has also accused the United States of political manipulation, as the report accuses Chinese authorities of withholding key information on the matter.
Origins of COVID: US Intelligence Reports are at a Standstill
Three months ago, President Joe Biden ordered a fresh and detailed inquiry on the origin of COVID-19.
This inquiry was carried out by 18 intelligence agencies of the United States in a systematic way.
The team concluded and submitted a classified report to the President on August 24th, and the non-classified version was made public recently.
According to the public version, the United States intelligence community is still confused and divided on the origin of the pandemic and could not reach any conclusion.
The intelligence report also points towards the importance of inducing China to share lab records, genomic samples, and other data that could lead toward the identification of the COVID origin.
China is reluctant to share such data, as one of the officials involved in the investigation said that the investigation was a deep dive, but they could go as deep as the situation allows.
Expecting cooperation from China is only a pipe dream, as both the countries are competing powers not willing to cooperate with each other on any avenue.
China’s lack of cooperation is henceforth pushing the pursuit of researches in a dead-end tunnel.
The intelligence report says that they are not sure if the virus was genetically engineered. Four agencies support the theory that the SARs COV-2 was naturally produced by an animal, while one agency favors the theory of a lab leak.
Scientists also believe that it could take years of research to reach the origin of the SARs COV-2.
Although United States intelligence agencies have failed to conclude that COVID-19 was developed as a bioweapon in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the report is also silent on the actual origin of the virus.
In response to the report, President Biden said that he would continue to look for the origin of the pandemic, as he criticized China for sabotaging the effort by not providing the critical information needed to conclude.
Lab Leak Theory: What this Fuss is all About
The lab leak theory says that COVID-19 was created in a lab and then leaked out of it, either intentionally or unintentionally.
The involvement of politics is sabotaging the theory, and even the simplest evidence becomes complicated.
Many scientists and experts have termed the lab leak theory as a conspiracy theory. The simplest assumption is that coronavirus comes from a bat, from where it was transferred to another animal that transferred it to a human.
The Wuhan meat market was declared as ground zero for the COVID outbreak during the initial days of the spread of the virus. Later, it was found out that the first official COVID case had no contact with this market. However, the market was termed as the site of the super-spreader of the virus.
Wuhan Institute of Virology was studying several types of coronaviruses and had hundreds of samples present there.
Although experimentation was carried out under strict security, an envoy from the United States embassy in Beijing did warn about the lack of security measures back in 2017, but their concerns were ignored.
The strongest evidence in support of the lab leak theory comes from the Bat Woman, Shi Zhengli, a Chinese virologist and an expert on SARs viruses.
Zhengli was in Shanghai when the outbreak took place in Wuhan. In her interview, she said that when she was told about the outbreak, she thought it was some kind of mistake because such viruses mostly break out in Southern China, where the original SARS virus was first discovered.
Later on, she realized that this could be one of the viruses that they were studying in the lab. This suggestion from Zhengli could be the firm foundation of a hypothesis that COVID-19 did break out from the lab in Wuhan.
However, Zhengli also related that when she returned to the lab and checked all of the samples, none of the samples matched the coronavirus.
This was the point where scientists and experts put the lab theory at rest. Nevertheless, many questions could arise about Zhengli speaking the truth.
Earlier on, three researchers from the Wuhan lab were hospitalized with COVID-like symptoms three weeks before the first official case of COVID-19. Once again, this is not enough proof but does lead toward more questions about the origins of the virus.
The lab leak theory has been the center of the US investigation, along with the investigation conducted by the United Nations months ago.
None of the investigations could prove that COVID-19 leaked out of the Wuhan lab or that it was deliberately leaked out, but all evidence leads to new sets of questions. The answers to these questions could only be found if China agrees to grant access to every bit of information related to the matter.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has rejected the report released by United States intelligence, saying that the US is politicizing the origin tracing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fu Cong, the director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that the US cannot scapegoat China by using the ridiculous lab leak theory.
The Chinese authorities have instead blamed the United States, saying that the virus leaked out of the United States Army’s base at Fort Detrick in 2019.
China’s envoy at the United Nations has also called for the investigation in the Fort Detrick lab for the origin-tracing of the virus.
Reaching the origins of the disease is an extremely crucial matter for all the stakeholders, so the US must put all of its intelligence to work to bring the necessary information out.