A senior United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) official acknowledged Monday night that the US has evidence to support both leading theories of where the Covid-19 outbreak originated.
One theory is that the virus came from an accident in a lab in Wuhan, China, and the other is that the outbreak started in a market in the city.
The official also noted that outbreak “does not appear to have been purposeful.”
This comes in response to an assessment by Western officials that it’s “highly likely” the virus originated in the Wuhan market. That contradicts the lab theory being pushed by the Trump administration.
That assessment — which has the support of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — is gaining support in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing coalition, which the US is a part of.
“The IC (intelligence community) stands by the statement that the ODNI released last Thursday and we underscore three points: the IC believes the virus started in China. We’re down to two theories and have evidence on both. We agree that it does not appear to have been purposeful,” the official said.
What happened Thursday: US President Donald Trump contradicted a rare on-the-record statement from his own intelligence community by claiming that he had seen evidence that gives him a “high degree of confidence” the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. Trump declined to provide details to back up his assertion.
Those comments undercut a public statement from the ODNI issued just hours earlier which stated no such assessment has been made. It said it continues to “rigorously examine” whether the outbreak “began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”