PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The U.S. Department of Energy now believes the COVID-19 global pandemic most likely came from a laboratory leak in China, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The White House and members of both the House and Senate Select Intelligence Committees were briefed on the classified report by agency officials.
U.S. government officials have been divided over whether the pandemic was caused by a Chinese lab-leak or emerged naturally from the wild.
White House officials have yet to comment on the report’s findings.
“There are a variety of views in the intelligence community,” Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor, told CNN on Sunday. “Some elements of the intelligence community have reached conclusions on one side, some on the other. A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information to be sure.”
Sullivan said the White House is continuing with efforts to investigate the spread of the virus.
“If we gain any further insight or information, we will share it with Congress, and we will share it with the American people,” Sullivan added. “But right now, there is not a definitive answer that has emerged from the intelligence community on this question.”
The Department of Energy’s investigation draws on its expertise of running eight national laboratories, some conducting similar biological research as the lab in Wuhan, China.
The assessment comes as Republicans on Capitol Hill have been pushing for further investigation into the lab leak theory.
Members of the GOP spoke out on the department’s findings, with some calling for more investigations.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, would like for the U.S. intelligence community to take part in “extensive public hearings” to determine whether a Chinese laboratory is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic that rocked the international community three years ago.
“Think about what just happened over the last three years, one of the biggest pandemics in a century,” Rep. Sullivan said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “A lot of evidence that it’s coming from the Chinese and when other countries even raise it, like Australia, the Chinese use their course of economic activity to shut people up.”
China imposed trade restrictions with Australia in 2020 after, among other things, the latter accused the former of being responsible for the spread of COVID-19.
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley tweeted out intentions to make the findings public through legislation.
The American people deserve the full truth about #covid origins. No more whitewash. I will again introduce legislation to make the US government’s intelligence reports on covid open to the people https://t.co/6rKqPzPKO2
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) February 26, 2023
“The American people deserve the full truth about #covid origins. No more whitewash. I will again introduce legislation to make the US government’s intelligence reports on covid open to the people,” the Republican lawmaker said.
Some members of the party are already prepared to punish the Chinese government.
Re. China’s lab leak, being proven right doesn’t matter.
What matters is holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable so this doesn’t happen again.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) February 26, 2023
“Re. China’s lab leak, being proven right doesn’t matter. What matters is holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable, so this doesn’t happen again,” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton tweeted on Sunday.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told the Wall Street Journal that new information caused the department to make the updated assessment.
The intelligence community has noted repeatedly that a lack of cooperation from Beijing has made it difficult to get to the bottom of the question of where the virus originated.
President Joe Biden has put resources into getting to the bottom of where and how the pandemic started.
China has denied the allegations that the coronavirus originated from a laboratory leak, calling it a conspiracy theory.