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FBI Identified as Lone Agency to Endorse Lab-Leak Theory after 90-Day Review

J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building in Washington, D.C. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

Following a 90-day review, the FBI concluded with “moderate confidence” that the COVID-19 pandemic began with a “laboratory accident,” according to an intelligence report that was declassified Friday.

While the declassified report does not name the single agency that endorsed the lab-leak theory, the New York Times has identified that agency as the FBI. The city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, is home to several virology labs including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where bat coronaviruses were studied.

The 17-page report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence distilled intelligence agencies’ conclusions on the outbreak following a 90-day review ordered by President Biden earlier this year. A summary of the report was released in August, saying that agencies were unable to discern whether the coronavirus jumped from an animal to a human or leaked from a lab.

The newly-declassified report noted that four agencies within the intelligence community as well as the National Intelligence Council concluded with “low confidence” that the pandemic began with a jump from animal to human, rather than a lab leak, while several other agencies were not able to come to a conclusion.

“Although the [intelligence community] has no indications that WIV research involved Sars-Cov-2 [the virus that causes Covid-19] or a close progenitor virus, these analysts note that it is plausible that researchers may have unwittingly exposed themselves to the virus without sequencing it during experiments or sampling activities, possibly resulting in asymptomatic or mild infection,” the report states.

The report concluded that if the coronavirus leaked from a lab, Chinese officials “probably were unaware in the initial months that such an incident had occurred.”

The Biden administration has not ordered the intelligence community to continue investigating the origins of the pandemic, effectively ceding the floor to international investigators and Beijing’s propagandists, who have begun to argue that the virus arrived in Wuhan through frozen food imports.

The report was declassified days before Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is scheduled to testify to Congress.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.