The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considers a leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan to be the most likely cause of the coronavirus pandemic. This was stated by FBI Director Christopher Ray in an interview with Fox News. “The FBI has for some time now believed that the source of the pandemic is most likely a possible laboratory incident in Wuhan,” Ray said on February 28. He added that the mentioned laboratory is run by the state, and the Chinese authorities are “doing everything possible to interfere” with the efforts of the United States and its partners to clarify the circumstances of the outbreak of the pandemic.
This is most likely a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is under the control of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2015, the first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory in mainland China was opened here. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning responded by saying that China is against political manipulation on the origin of the coronavirus. In her opinion, the FBI has taken up scientific issues that are unusual for it, which can be called politicization of the origin of the coronavirus. “We call on the American side to respect science and facts, to stop politicizing the issue of tracking the origin of the coronavirus,” she said.
This is not the first attempt by the American side to blame Beijing. Earlier, on February 26, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a classified report by the US Department of Energy, that this department also concluded that a pandemic had begun as a result of a leak from a laboratory in China. The findings of the department with the category of “low certainty” are based on some new data. On the same day, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan explained that US intelligence has not yet come to a final conclusion about the origin of the coronavirus. But the US Department of Energy has its own intelligence and, as a civilian agency, deals with issues not only of nuclear, but also of biological security.
Russia and international organizations report that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the coronavirus. On February 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) suspended further investigation into the origin of the coronavirus due to data collection issues. And on March 1, WHO spokesman Tarik Yasharevich said in comments to TASS that the organization is considering all hypotheses of the origin of the coronavirus until it receives evidence in favor of any of them. Commenting on the statements of American officials, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, at a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Health, noted that it was impossible to confirm the leak of the virus from the laboratory in Wuhan. “They didn’t study anything forbidden there, at least from what they have …> It’s completely impossible to confirm that they lost it (the virus), it leaked out from there. The security system there is of high quality,” she said (quoted by RIA Novosti).
Until now, the main version of the origin of COVID-19 was considered to be the transmission of the virus to humans from animals. Many of the first cases were related to the Wuhan market, which sells seafood, birds, snakes, bats and other animals. In March 2021, WHO, following an investigation in China, called the version of artificial origin as “extremely unlikely,” Vedomosti wrote. The findings were largely based on a visit by a team of WHO international experts to Wuhan. At the same time, it was emphasized that the Chinese authorities did not fully familiarize specialists with documents that would allow drawing conclusions about the origin of the coronavirus.
At the same time, former US President Donald Trump was an active supporter of the recognition of China’s guilt in the spread of COVID-19 in other countries. In his speech at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in 2020, he stated the need to “call to account the country that unleashed this plague on the whole world – China.” At the same time, Trump did not believe that China deliberately spread the coronavirus. “They did a terrible thing. I don’t think they did it on purpose, but it was done, perhaps due to incompetence, ”the politician said back in an interview from May 2020. Fox News recalled that mainstream media such as The New York Times believed the version that the coronavirus leaked from the lab is some kind of conspiracy promoted by the extreme right. In 2020, this newspaper published links to a report alleging that Trump administration officials were forcing intelligence agencies to look for a connection between the coronavirus and the Wuhan laboratory.
Trump’s words about the coronavirus leak from the laboratory were also ridiculed by the US Democratic Party, calling him an obscurantist, says Oleg Barabanov, program director of the Valdai International Discussion Club. But already in May 2021, Biden instructed his administration to investigate the origin of the new coronavirus. In the current conditions, when the Democratic Party is in power and wants to “squeeze China”, this topic is raised again, the expert notes. Ray’s words came amid a general escalation in US-China relations, said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council. He adds that without presenting a strong evidence base to the public, such rhetoric by the American authorities can be considered a symptom of the unfavorable state of relations between the two countries. Hopes that they would improve after Trump’s departure did not materialize, and now the Biden administration indicates Washington’s readiness to go to the information aggravation, Kortunov concludes.