Last Updated on December 14, 2022

Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee have stated that there are “indications” that the COVID-19 virus could be tied to China’s bioweapons research program, according to a newly released report. The report further states that the virus could have “spilled over” to the human population during an incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This exact scenario — commonly referred to as the “lab leak theory” — has long been questioned by a number of journalists and elected officials, though they were largely dismissed and referred to as “conspiracy theorists” over the course of the pandemic.

The new information was released in a minority staff report by members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday night, Fox News reported.

“Contrary to the implication of the [Intelligence Community’s] declassified report, based on our investigation involving a variety of public and non-public information, we conclude that there are indications that SARS-CoV-2 may have been tied to China’s biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population during a lab-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” a summary of the report states. “The IC failed to adequately address this information in its classified Updated Assessment. When we attempted to raise the issues with the IC, it failed to respond.”

The latest report is a deviation from previous government guidelines, which cast doubt on the lab leak theory and instead argued that the virus naturally jumped from bats to humans due from a wet market in Wuhan, In a declassified assessment on the origins of COVID-19 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in October 2021, the report states that SARS-CoV-2 was “probably not a biological weapon.”

“We remain skeptical of allegations that SARS-CoV-2 was a biological weapon because they are supported by scientifically invalid claims,” the report continued.

“The Committee believes the IC downplayed important information relating to the possible links between COVID-19 and China’s bioweapons research based in part on input from outside experts,” the report states, adding that the intelligence community “refuses to be transparent with the Committee regarding which experts it relied on.”

While the report alleges that COVID-19 could very well be tied to a Chinese bioweapons program, the report states that there are currently no indications that the virus was released intentionally. “We have not seen any credible indication that the virus was intentionally, rather than accidentally, released,” the report reads.

“Nor do we claim the information we have found is a smoking gun that definitively resolves the question of the origins of COVID-19 beyond all doubt. However, the information is important to furthering the public’s understanding, and we will seek to declassify the classified version of our report in the next Congress to further the conversation,” the document continues.

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