Conspiracy theory goes mainstream — more than HALF in the US now say Covid-19 started in a lab, in first major poll since the Energy Department dropped its bombshell Wuhan leak finding
- Donald Trump was once derided for saying the 'Wuhan virus' came from a lab
- Now, that view has gone mainstream and is accepted by most Americans
- It crept over the half-way mark after a turnaround by the Energy Department
A Tipp Insights poll provided exclusively to DailyMail.com shows that 52 percent of US adults subscribe to the 'lab leak' theory, while only small shares of respondents said the virus came about naturally or from animals.
The popularity of the lab leak theory rose from about 44 percent last year, and crossed the half-way mark in recent days after the FBI and the Energy Department released bombshell conclusions that a lab was the most likely origin.
Of those who tout the lab leak theory, most of them — 54 percent — say Covid-19 was released into the population deliberately, while only 31 percent say the pathogen escaped by accident.
The survey of 1,370 US adults this month found that respondents were split along party lines. Republican voters (68 percent) were more likely than Democrats (40 percent) to support the lab leak theory.
The shift shows a remarkable turnaround for an account that was once the preserve of conspiracy theorists, who raised questions about US funding flows to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Former president Donald Trump famously said he was confident that the 'Wuhan virus' originated in a Chinese lab, even though some naysayers at the time dismissed his claims as racist.
The theory gained greater respectability earlier this month, when FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed the agency's conclusion that the Covid-19 pandemic was probably the result of a lab leak in Wuhan, China.
Wray reiterated his agency's initial findings from 2021, that it had 'moderate confidence' that the pandemic was a result of an accidental leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
China denounced Wray's comments as having 'no credibility whatsoever.' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters that the US should 'respect science and facts.'
Wray's comments and the new polling come as the White House continues to struggle to reach a 'consensus' on the origin of the virus despite an Energy Department probe reaching the same conclusion as the FBI.
The department, which maintains a group of national labs, late last month joined the FBI in touting the possible lab leak theory — saying it reached that conclusion with 'low confidence' as other agencies disagreed.
The Energy Department's report revealed it reversed its previous position and has used new research to conclude that the Covid-19 virus most likely leaked from a Chinese research lab.
The new conclusion was issued in an update to a 2021 document prepared by the director of National Intelligence and was recently provided to White House lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While the Energy Department joined the FBI in saying the virus likely spread from a lab in Wuhan, four other agencies are still said to favor the 'natural spillover' theory that the virus escaped via an animal at a nearby meat market.
Two agencies, one of which is the CIA, are yet to declare a definitive position.
The Energy Department's change of tune is important because the agency is known for its expertise as it oversees various US laboratories, some of which carry out biological research.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who had publicly rejected the lab leak theory, following the turnaround in the Energy Department.
With the mixed conclusions coming from US agencies, the White House on Monday was forced to acknowledge the lack of a consensus.
'There is not a consensus right now in the US government about exactly how it started. There's just not an intelligence community consensus,' said national security spokesman Adm. John Kirby.
Kirby got hit with a series of questions about the report, which pointed to the lab leak as a likely source — even as other agencies attributed the pandemic to a virus that mutated in the environment.
Kirby pointed to that lack of agreement, even as the White House defended infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci 's blasts against conspiracy theories and refused to say how the US might act against China if the lab leak theory was proven.
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