FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that the agency believes the COVID-19 pandemic began due to a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
COVID-19 first erupted in China in late 2019 before leaping worldwide early the following year. Initially, China claimed the source of the virus was a market selling exotic animals in Wuhan.
Contrary opinions arose that the virus emerged from a research lab in Wuhan. During the debate over the origin of the virus, advocates of the lab leak theory were initially derided as conspiracy theorists until over time evidence emerged that gave credence to their view.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Energy believes the virus escaped from the lab, citing a classified intelligence report given to Congress and the White House. The Journal report said the FBI also believes the virus leaked from the lab.
On Wednesday, Wray told Fox News host Brett Baier that the agency is in fact on the side of those who believe the virus was manufactured and not natural.
Watch; FBI Director Chris Wray tells Fox’s @BretBaier that “Origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.. the Chinese government it seems to me has been doing its best to thwart and obfuscate the work we’re doing.” pic.twitter.com/KjwvlFpYnS
— TV News Now (@TVNewsNow) February 28, 2023
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray said.
“We step back for a second. The FBI has folks, agents, professionals, analysts, virologists, microbiologists, etcetera who focus specifically on the dangers of biological threats, which include things like novel viruses like COVID and the concerns that in the wrong hands — some bad guys, a hostile nation-state, a terrorist, a criminal, the threat that those could pose,” Wray said.
“So here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans and that’s precisely what the capability was designed for,” he said.
Wray told Baier that many of the details supporting the conclusion remain classified.
“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 U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing. And that’s unfortunate for everybody,” he said.
China responded angrily to what it called “political manipulation,” according to Reuters.
“Based on the poor track record of fraud and deception of the U.S. intelligence community, the conclusions they draw have no credibility whatsoever,” Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Mao Ning said.
China’s sensitivity to any suggestion the virus leaked from a Wuhan research lab was shown in a Global Times response to a tweet from Twitter’s Elon Musk, according to CNBC.
Musk drew the ire of the state-run Global Times when he commented on a tweet concerning the American role in funding research that took place at Wuhan.
He did it via a pass-through organization (EcoHealth)
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2023
“Some may think @elonmusk made those remarks only to attack Fauci,” @globaltimesnews reads. But the posts he reposted “almost all link the origins of #Covid19 to China and the argument is repeatedly used by the US right wing and anti-China media hostile to China to frame #China.”
— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) February 28, 2023
The Global Times warned Musk that he could be “breaking the pot of China,” which CNBC was akin to the saying not “to bite the hand that feeds you.”
In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who at one point denigrated the lab leak theory, stated “we may not ever know” the virus’s origin.