FBI Director Christopher Wray acknowledged Tuesday that the bureau believes the Covid-19 pandemic was likely the result of a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China.
In his first public comments about the FBI’s investigation into the origin of the virus during an interview with Fox News, Wray said that “the FBI has for some time assessed that the origin of the pandemic is likely a possible laboratory incident in Wuhan. ”
CNN reported in 2021, citing two sources familiar with the matter, that the FBI had “moderate confidence” in the lab leak theory.
Wray’s comments come days after news of the Department of Energy’s “low confidence” assessment that Covid-19 likely came from a lab leak in China, underscoring the divide in the US government as the majority of the intelligence community still believes that Covid either arose naturally in nature, or that there is still too little evidence to make a judgment one way or the other.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a 2021 report that revealed that the National Intelligence Council, along with four other unidentified agencies, assessed with low confidence that the initial Covid-19 infection “likely resulted from physical exposure to an animal infected with or a close ancestral virus’.
Intelligence agencies can make assessments with low, medium or high confidence. A low confidence rating generally means that the information obtained is not reliable enough or too fragmented to make a more definitive analytical judgment, or that there is not enough information available to draw a more valid conclusion.
Wray said in the interview that the FBI has a team of specialists who focus specifically on the risk of biological threats falling into the “wrong hands,” including a “hostile nation state.”
“You’re talking about a possible leak from a laboratory controlled by the Chinese government that killed millions of Americans,” Wray said of the coronavirus, “and that’s what this capability was designed for.”
Wray said most details of the FBI’s investigation remain classified and that it has been difficult to work with the Chinese government to investigate the origins of the pandemic.
“I’ll just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has done everything they can to try to block and obscure the project here,” the bureau director said. “The work being done by the US government and our close foreign partners. And that’s unfortunate for everyone.”
China’s Foreign Ministry pushed back against the Energy Ministry’s updated assessment during a briefing on Monday, with spokesman Mao Ning saying “stakeholders should stop making arguments about lab leaks, stop smearing China and to stop politicizing the issue of the origin of the virus. .”