• The US intelligence community agrees with the “wide scientific consensus” that the novel coronavirus was not “manmade or genetically modified,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement.
  • The statement continued: “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.”
  • Thursday’s development comes after weeks of speculation in the far-right and right-wing media that the coronavirus was created in a Wuhan lab.
  • The intelligence community has also been investigating whether the virus was collected by researchers and accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab.
  • There is no hard evidence to date backing either of those theories up.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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The US intelligence community agrees with the “wide scientific consensus” that the novel coronavirus was not “manmade or genetically modified,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement Thursday.

“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to US national security,” the statement continued. “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.”

Thursday’s statement comes after weeks of speculation in the far-right and right-wing media that the coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, was created in a lab in Wuhan. There is no hard evidence to date that the theory holds merit.

The US intelligence community has also been investigating whether the virus was collected by researchers and then accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab but has found no proof to date backing it up, according to Politico, which cited multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The New York Times also reported on Thursday that senior administration officials have pressured American spies to dig for evidence proving the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab.

Intelligence agencies are skeptical that conclusive evidence exists linking the virus to a lab, according to The Times, and some analysts are worried that pressure from the White House will distort intelligence assessments and weaponize them in a brewing battle with China over the disease outbreak.

Indeed, President Donald Trump and his allies have ramped up public speculation about the Wuhan lab theory in recent weeks.

“More and more, we’re hearing the story, and we’ll see,” Trump said earlier this month.

When asked on April 18 “how active” the investigation was into whether the virus escaped a lab in Wuhan, China, Trump said: “We are looking at it. A lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense.”

“A lot of strange things are happening, but there is a lot of investigation going on and we’re going to find out,” Trump added.

At that same briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, threw cold water on the theory and pointed to a recent scientific study that found evidence that strongly indicated the virus was transmitted from an animal to a human, rather than created or enhanced in a laboratory setting.

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