The long-anticipated report by the U.S. Intelligence Community on the origins and spread of Covid-19 provided new information on their findings, but it did not say definitively if the coronavirus originated from an animal infected with the virus or an incident at a lab.
"All agencies continue to assess that both a natural and laboratory-associated origin remain plausible hypotheses to explain the first human infection," the 10-page declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.
The report outlined divisions within Intelligence Community.
While the National Intelligence Council and four unnamed agencies found that natural exposure to an infected animal was most likely, the Department of Energy and FBI's assessment was that a laboratory-associated incident was the more likely scenario for the first human infection.
The report says that the CIA, along with an unidentified organization, "remain unable" to pinpoint the origin of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Both hypotheses rely upon significant assumptions, or are challenged by conflicting reports.
All agencies, however, agreed that Covid had not been manufactured as a weapon of mass destruction.
Congress passed legislation in the past year requiring that the intelligence community declassify any information relating possible links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the origins of the pandemic.
The report shed some light on the Wuhan Institute, which was at the heart of a hypothesis claiming that the virus had escaped from the lab and started infecting humans or was transferred to humans by an animal.
A U.S. Intelligence report from 2021 identified three researchers who were at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in November 2019, and sought treatment in a hospital. This circumstantial, but inconclusive evidence appeared to support a hypothesis stating that the virus could have spread after escaping the lab.
According to a report released on Friday, the intelligence community expanded its investigation into Covid-19 in March, to determine whether the first human case of infection was caused by natural exposure to a virus-infected animal, or an incident in a laboratory.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council stated that the release of the report reflects President Joe Biden's commitment "to declassify as much information related to the origins and methods of COVID-19 as possible, while protecting sources." The White House National Security Council spokesman said that President Joe Biden's commitment to "declassify and share as much information related to the origins of COVID-19, while protecting sources and methods" is reflected in the release of the report.