WASHINGTON — A report on the origins of COVID-19 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation, according to people familiar with the classified document.
The study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and was drawn on by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins during the final months of the Trump administration.
It is attracting fresh interest in Congress now that President Joe Biden has ordered that U.S. intelligence agencies report to him within 90 days on how the virus emerged. Biden said that U.S. intelligence has focused on two scenarios—whether the coronavirus came from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.
People familiar with the study said that it was prepared by Lawrence Livermore’s “Z Division,” which is its intelligence arm. Lawrence Livermore has considerable expertise on biological issues. Its assessment drew on genomic analysis of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, they said.
The assessment is said to have been among the first U.S. government efforts to seriously explore the hypothesis that the virus leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology along with the competing hypothesis the pandemic began with human contact with infected animals.
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