The US intelligence community does not believe the coronavirus is “manmade or genetically modified,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said Thursday.
In a statement, the top intelligence agency said agencies have been giving “critical support” to American policymakers and those responding to the virus that emerged in China.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” said the office.
The rare statement came amid backlash from some lawmakers in Congress who pinned the blame on laboratories in Beijing as the source of the pandemic.
The disease has killed more than 60,000 people in the US and infected greater than 1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The DNI also said the intelligence community would continue investigating if COVID-19 may have been accidentally leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security.
“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” it added.
Scientists believe the virus emerged naturally. Viruses such as Ebola or SARS, came from animals.
Speaking with ABC News earlier this month, professor of Infectious Diseases at Stanford Medical School, Robert Shafer, said there is no reason to believe the virus was made in a lab.
“There are many strains in nature that could cause this type of outbreak,” he said.
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