A classified report from a top US government laboratory on the origins of the coronavirus concluded in May 2020 that the theory stating the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China should be investigated further, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The study from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a biodefense research facility primarily funded by the Department of Energy, was one of the first and most authoritative works to cut against the initial scientific consensus that the virus naturally jumped from animals to humans.
The study’s existence was first reported last month by Sinclair Broadcast Group. It was also referenced last week in a bombshell report by Vanity Fair. The latter publication reported that the analysis was uncovered in the fall of 2020 by an intelligence analyst working for the State Department and galvanized a dormant investigation into the origins of the virus by the Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance.
Vanity Fair also reported that officials at the Department of Energy attempted to block State Department investigators from talking to the report’s authors. The State Department probe itself was shut down by the Biden administration earlier this year.
The Journal reported Monday that the Livermore lab’s assessment, which was prepared by the lab’s “Z Division,” or intelligence arm, drew on genomic analysis of the virus.
On Sunday, the Journal published an op-ed by two experts, Dr. Steven Quay and Richard Muller, who claimed that a genomic analysis of the virus suggests that it is the result of so-called “gain-of-function” research, in which viruses are made more contagious and transmissible in an effort to prevent pandemics.
Last month, President Biden ordered the intelligence community to review all evidence related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and report back within 90 days.
Meanwhile, three top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote last month to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Kimberly Budil requesting a classified briefing about the May 2020 study. It was not immediately clear if they received a response.