Former DNI John Ratcliffe: Coronavirus Lab Leak ‘Very Close to a Certainty’

This photo taken on February 6, 2020 shows a laboratory technician working on samples from
STR/AFP via Getty Images

John Ratcliffe, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) during the Trump administration, wrote in an op-ed Monday that the notion of the coronavirus escaping from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is “very close to a certainty.”

In addition, he argued Beijing should lose the opportunity to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games over its efforts to cover up its role in the virus’s emergence.

“I had access to all of the U.S. government’s most sensitive intelligence related to the pandemic. My informed opinion is that the lab leak theory isn’t just a ‘possibility,’ at the very least it is more like a probability, if not very close to a certainty,” he wrote on

Ratcliffe noted there is scientific consensus the outbreak began in Wuhan, despite coronaviruses not naturally occurring there and the nearest bat cave being hundreds of miles away. The bats’ range is only about 30 miles and, even if they were transported, there would presumably have been cases popping up along the route, he argued. “Meanwhile, Wuhan scientists were openly studying bat coronaviruses in their lab,” he said.

And instead of providing evidence that the coronavirus leaked from the lab, they have stonewalled investigation, tried to silence critics, and tried to divert blame — with Chinese officials even suggesting the virus was created by the U.S. military, he added. “The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] has not provided any exculpatory evidence in a crime that had devastating impacts on nearly every person on earth because, in short, they can’t,” he said.

Ratcliffe pointed to the State Department fact sheet drawing on classified intelligence that stated that “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] and seasonal illnesses.”

“This declassified intelligence has since been corroborated by public reporting with more details,” he added.

Ratcliffe called on President Joe Biden to declassify and publicly release additional intelligence.

“World leaders owe it to the billions of people harmed by this virus — and to the families of those who lost their lives — to get to the bottom of its origins, for the sake of justice and to ensure this never happens again,” he said.

“That effort should start with the United States government sharing what it knows. From there, it should continue by the International Olympic Committee denying the CCP the ability to burnish its global image despite its crimes.”

Ratcliffe said the 2022 Winter Games should go on so as not to punish hard-working athletes dedicating their lives to preparing for it, but that the International Olympic Committee should not allow Beijing to reap the benefits of hosting while rejecting transparency and responsibility for the spread of the virus that has led to millions of deaths around the world.

He noted that China just last week rejected the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plan to investigate the theory that the virus escaped from the WIV.

“The seven Olympic values are friendship, excellence, respect, courage, determination, inspiration and equality. The CCP’s coverup of the virus’s origins have proven once again that they are no friend of the world,” he wrote.

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