By 2025, will a majority of US Intelligence Community organizations support a lab leak hypothesis for SARS-CoV-2 over a natural origin hypothesis?
A declassified assessment by the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 was made available on 2021-10-29 and is based on information available through August 2021. Notably, it found wide agreement among the U.S. IC's 18 organizations on the following:
- "SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December 2019."
- "We judge the virus was not developed as a biological weapon"
- "Most agencies also assess with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered; however, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way."
- "China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged"
However, while "all agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident," the IC "remains divided on the most likely origin of COVID-19":
- "Four IC elements and the National Intelligence Council assess with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus"
- "One IC element assesses with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology."
- "Analysts at three IC elements remain unable to coalesce around either explanation without additional information"
The declassified report states that more information on the earliest cases may "alter our evaluation of hypotheses" and that, in the past, the "identification of animal sources has taken years."
|Number of forecasts||888|
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