FBI chief says Covid likely came from China lab leak - Dispatch Weekly

March 1, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes

​Christopher Wray, the head of the FBI, said that the agency thinks Covid-19 “most likely” came from a “Chinese government-controlled lab.

“The FBI has known for a long time that the most likely cause of the pandemic was an accident in a lab,” he told Fox News.

It is the first time that the FBI’s secret assessment of how the pandemic virus spread has been made public.

Many scientists say there is no proof that it got out of a lab.

And other parts of the US government have come to different conclusions than the FBI.

Some of them have said, but they aren’t sure, that the virus didn’t start in a lab but spread from animals to people.

The White House has said that the US government does not agree on where it all began.

In 2021, a study done by China and the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the lab leak theory was “extremely unlikely.”

But the WHO’s investigation was heavily criticised, and the organization’s head has since asked for a new one, saying: “All hypotheses remain open and need more study.”

Mr. Wray’s remarks come a day after the US ambassador to China asked China to “be more honest” about where Covid came from.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Wray said that China has been “doing its best” to make it hard to find out where the global pandemic started.

He said that the details of the investigation were secret, but that the FBI had a team of experts who were looking into how dangerous biological threats could be.

In response, Beijing said that Washington was “manipulating politics.”

“Their conclusions have no credibility at all,” said Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry.

Some studies suggest that the virus went from animals to people in Wuhan, China, possibly at the city’s seafood and wildlife market.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of the best virus labs in the world, which did research on coronaviruses, is close to the market.

A few days ago, the US Department of Energy said that the virus was probably caused by a leak in a lab in Wuhan, but that they could only say this with “low confidence.”

Since then, many scientists who have studied the virus have said that there is no new scientific evidence that points to a lab leak.

Professor David Robertson, who is in charge of viral genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow, said that a natural origin is still the most likely one.

This week, he said: “What we know about the virus’s biology, the close variants that are circulating in bats, and the places where the first human cases were found all strongly point to a natural origin in the Huanan market in Wuhan city.”

John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said on Monday that US President Joe Biden backs “an effort by the whole government” to find out where Covid came from.

He said: “We’re just not there [at agreement] yet. We will tell the American people and Congress about something if it is ready to be told.”

Since the spy balloon incident, relations between the US and China have become much more tense.

This week, a group of US lawmakers from both parties began a series of hearings about the “existential” threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses to the US.

The House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party met for the first time to talk about things like human rights and how much the US economy depends on Chinese manufacturing.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.