White House says there’s ‘not a consensus’ on origins of COVID-19
White House officials confirmed an ongoing effort into uncovering how the COVID-19 virus originated amid reports of a lab leak in China.
Patrick Colson-Price, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The White House said there isn’t a consensus across the government on the origins of COVID-19.
The announcement comes after controversial reporting that the U.S. Department of Energy concluded the pandemic most likely began after an unintentional laboratory leak in China.
According to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the department’s conclusion was made with “low confidence,” meaning there was a level of certainty that was not high.
“There is not a consensus right now in the US government about exactly how COVID started,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday. “There is just not an intelligence community consensus.”
Kirby would not confirm reporting by the two outlets on the Department of Energy’s conclusion. USA TODAY could not independently verify the reports.
USA TODAY reached out to the Department of Energy, which would not confirm nor deny the reporting.
There have been two top theories on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in China: the virus jumped from animals to humans at a market or that it was accidentally leaked from a lab where researchers were studying coronaviruses. However, neither theory has enough evidence to be labeled as conclusive.
Kirby said that Biden asked the government to investigate how the pandemic started “so that we can better prevent a future pandemic.”
“What the President wants is facts. That’s what we’re doing. And we’re just not there yet,” Kirby said. “And when we’re there yet, and if we have something that is, is is ready to be briefed to the American people and to Congress, then we’re going to do that.”
Contributing: Karen Weintraub
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_