March 1 (UPI) — FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency believes the COVID-19 pandemic likely started as a lab leak in Wuhan, China.
Wray said in an interview with Fox News that aired Tuesday that the Chinese government has continued to stonewall international investigators interested in exploring the theory of a potential lab leak, raising suspicions.
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray said. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called the comments “political manipulation of the origins-tracing issue.”
“China always supports and participates in science-based global origins-tracing of SARS-CoV-2,” Mao said during a news conference on Wednesday. “The origins-tracing is a complex matter of science. This study should be and can only be conducted jointly by scientists around the world.
“‘A laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely’ is a science-based, authoritative conclusion reached by the experts of the [World Health Organization]-China joint mission.”
Wray’s comments come on the heels of a classified report from the U.S. Energy Department that also concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic was likely caused by a leak from a lab in China.
The report’s conclusions were made with “low confidence” but come after other U.S. agencies have suggested that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan where the first cases were reported.
In 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a report that four other intelligence agencies determined with low confidence that the initial COVID-19 infection “was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal” infected with the virus, most likely a bat.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.