Christopher Wray, Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has said that the Covid-19 pandemic “most likely” originated from a “Chinese government-controlled lab” in Wuhan city.
In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Wray said: “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan… Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.
“I will just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing, the work that our US government and close foreign partners are doing. And that’s unfortunate for everybody.”
He went on to say that the FBI has specialists who focus on “the dangers of biological threats, which include things like novel viruses like Covid, and the concerns that they (are) in the wrong hands (of) some bad guys, a hostile nation-state, a terrorist, a criminal”.
Some studies in the past have suggested that the virus made the leap from animals to humans in Wuhan, possibly at the city’s seafood and wildlife market, reports the BBC.
The market is a 40-minute drive from a world-leading virus laboratory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which conducted research into coronaviruses.
But China has denied the lab leak theory.
The FBI chief further told Fox News that the Chinese government has been trying to block investigative work into the origins of the coronavirus.
Wray’s comments come after the US Department of Energy had recently assessed that the Covid-19 pandemic was likely caused by an accidental lab leak in China.
The National Intelligence Council as well as four other government agencies assess at “low confidence” that Covid-19 originated as a result of natural transmission from an infected animal, but the CIA and other government agencies remain undecided.
On Monday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that President Joe Biden supports “a whole-of-government effort” to discover how Covid began.
But he added that the US still lacks a clear consensus as to what happened.
“We’re just not there yet. If we have something that is ready to be briefed to the American people and the Congress, we will do that,” the BBC quoted Kirby as saying.
Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019 and has since led to the deaths of nearly seven million people across the world.