An updated classified report from the United States Department of Energy states that the SARS-CoV-2, which caused the global pandemic, “likely” leaked from a laboratory. Though the report cites new evidence, details of the nature of the evidence have not been made public.
The Energy Department oversees the nuclear weapons and energy programs and is not believed to be directly involved in the investigation into the origins of the pandemic. But, it oversees a network of American laboratories located in foreign lands, including a few that conduct advanced biological research.
Though the department’s conclusion was made with “low confidence,” it now aligns with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI). The FBI had drawn similar conclusions with “moderate confidence” back in 2021.
Although the Energy Department and the FBI cite a probable leak from a Chinese biological laboratory as the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, four other U.S. intelligence agencies and National Intelligence Council favor the natural transmission theory. Three years after the pandemic outbreak, which has claimed over seven million lives, there are no concrete answers, only theories. The lack of consensus among the various agencies and the splintered opinions among the scientific community directly result from Beijing’s uncooperative attitude.
Chinese administration’s opacity is nothing new. Yet, China’s unwillingness to permit an impartial, scientific investigation into the virus's origins that brought the world to a near standstill is appalling. Undoubtedly, the initial epicenter of the outbreak is the city of Wuhan, in China. Many in the scientific community and the public believe the virus first emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is well documented that the advanced biological facility studied coronaviruses found in bats. An accidental or unintentional leak could have transmitted the virus to humans. There is speculation that the virus was “engineered” from the bat virus, making it more virulent. But, to move past speculation and to reach conclusions based solely on facts and evidence requires access to the facility and the place of origin.
It was recently reported in Nature that the World Health Organisation had abandoned its coronavirus Phase 2 investigation “citing ongoing challenges over attempts to conduct crucial studies in China.” Though the international body and the scientists on the panel denied that it had shelved the investigation into the origins of the virus, spokesman Jašarević said, “China must provide access and info for this to happen — and if this doesn’t happen, efforts to understand the origins will remain rather stymied.”
With Beijing resisting visits by international scientists and limiting access to crucial sites, evidence, and data, the scientific community’s options are greatly limited when it comes to exploring how the virus infected humans in the first place. With each passing day, the probability of collecting samples that could hold the key to the mystery dims. Beijing cannot deny that it handled the initial outbreak poorly. The administration defaulted to its modus operandi of covering up and withholding crucial information in the early days, spreading the virus worldwide.
While China is trying to deflect blame and responsibility, the world needs answers to prevent another similar pandemic. Protocols and procedures must be devised and implemented to ensure that a catastrophe of such a scale does not bring life to a standstill again. Accident or deliberate, lab-grown or natural, seven million lives were lost to a microorganism. The world needs answers.
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