It’s been 90 days since US President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to investigate the origins of Covid-19, but the public may have to wait a few more days to see an unclassified version of that report.
In May, Biden told US intelligence agencies to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the covid-19 pandemic, including the possibility that it arose from a laboratory accident, and to inform him within 90 days. After months of work, that review ended on Tuesday.
The president was briefed on the report’s findings on Tuesday, two administration officials told Citizen Free Press.
However, all agencies in the intelligence community had little confidence in any of the theories of the origin of COVID-19 (a laboratory accident or a natural emergence) and were trading sides on Friday, a source familiar with the story told Citizen Free Press.
But the White House and National Intelligence Director Avril Haines were very focused on meeting the deadline, the source added.
The intelligence community is preparing an unclassified summary of the report that can be released to the public. Lawmakers are expected to be briefed on the findings in the coming days, then the unclassified version will be released, administration officials said.
The unclassified report could arrive this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Citizen Free Press reported earlier this month that it is not expected to be groundbreaking. Biden tasked the intelligence community with declassifying as much of the report as possible.
“I would say it normally takes a couple of days, if not longer, to put together an unclassified version for public presentation and obviously the president will be briefed on any findings first,” Psaki said at a news conference at the White House on Monday.
Psaki continued, “So I don’t have an exact date for you, but I hope it’s several days, a couple or several days after tomorrow.”
Sources familiar with the initial report told Citizen Free Press earlier this month that after three months of poring over raw data and intelligence, the intelligence community was still divided on the two theories, one suggesting that the virus has spread. originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and the other that suggests it naturally jumped to humans from animals.
The inability of the intelligence community to present a theory with great confidence after three months of intense work underscores how difficult it is to investigate the origins of the covid-19 pandemic.
China has refused to share information from the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and that lack of transparency has been a major stumbling block in the process. The Chinese government has maintained that the virus originated and spread naturally.
Citizen Free Press reported earlier this month that intelligence agencies had obtained a trove of genetic data extracted from virus samples in the Wuhan lab that some officials believe may have been the source of the outbreak. It was unclear at the time whether officials had finished analyzing that data.
Intelligence officials have also reviewed signals intelligence, including intercepted communications and satellite images, which could provide clues.
Earlier this year, a US intelligence report found that several researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized. It was a new detail that prompted new public pressure on Biden to delve into the origin of the virus.
In March, Biden ordered his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to commission the intelligence community to prepare a report on the most up-to-date analysis of the origins of the covid-19 pandemic. Biden said he received that report in May and then asked for additional follow-up.
Citizen Free Press’s Jeremy Diamond and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.
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