FBI director says China laboratory leak was likely COVID source
FBI Director Christopher Wray says his agency has determined that a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China, was the likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wray’s remarks follow a Wall Street Journal report on Sunday that the US energy department had determined with low confidence that the pandemic resulted from an accidental lab leak in China.
“The FBI has long determined that the origin of the pandemic is most likely a possible laboratory incident in Wuhan,” Wray told Fox News on Tuesday.
Four other U.S. agencies, along with a national intelligence panel, believe the pandemic was likely the result of natural transmission, and two have yet to make a decision, the Journal reported.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby also said on Monday that the US government has not yet reached a final conclusion and consensus on the origins of the pandemic.
Wray also told Fox News that China thwarted efforts to trace the origin of the virus. But the investigations were still ongoing, he said, adding that he was currently unable to share “a lot of details that are classified.”
“I will just make the comment that the Chinese government … has done its best to try to thwart and obscure the work here, the work that we are doing, the work that our US government and close foreign partners are doing,” he said.
The FBI later tweeted the director’s comments.
Today, #FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke to FOX News for an extensive interview, discussing the threats and the Bureau’s commitment to protecting the American people. pic.twitter.com/l0D0yYeCpR
— FBI (@FBI) March 1, 2023
When asked to comment on the Wall Street Journal report, China’s foreign ministry cited a joint report by the World Health Organization and China that pointed to a natural origin of the pandemic rather than a laboratory leak.
“In terms of tracing the origin of SARS-CoV-2, China has been open and transparent and has shared information and data on COVID-19 with the international community in a timely manner,” said the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mao Ning, Tuesday.
“China is the only country that has more than once invited WHO expert groups to enter the country to conduct joint provenance research. China has shared more data and research results on the origin study of SARS-CoV-2 than any other country,” she said.
Mao also said the US should look into its own biological laboratories around the world.
“It is the US that must respond to the world’s questions and concerns about Fort Detrick and its military and biological laboratories around the world,” she said.
“By politicizing the issue, the US will fail to discredit China. Instead, it only damages the US’s own credibility.”
WHO’s global COVID-19 trackers reported that as of Feb. 21, there were more than 757 million virus infections and 6.85 million related deaths.