Six CIA analysts on the Covid Discovery Team were “given a significant monetary incentive” to report that the 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus did not originate at a laboratory, two committees of the US House of Representatives said on Tuesday, citing a whistleblower from within the spy agency.
The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) have received “new and concerning whistleblower testimony” regarding the CIA’s investigation into the origins of the pandemic, from a person described as “a multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer.”
According to the whistleblower, six of the seven members of the team believed “the intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment” that the virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Only one believed the virus came from an animal, but he was the most senior, according to a letter the two committees sent to CIA Director William Burns.
The six analysts were offered money to change their position so that the agency could arrive at “the eventual public determination of uncertainty,” the whistleblower told the committee.
HPSCI chair Mike Turner and Coronavirus Subcommittee chair Brad Wenstrup, both Ohio Republicans, requested documents from Burns pertaining to the work of the team. They also asked the former CIA chief operating officer, Andrew Makridis, for a “voluntary interview” on September 26.
The US intelligence community said in June that its multiple agencies could not reach a consensus about where the pandemic originated, with four “elements” believing it was “most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus,” while only one thought it was “a laboratory-associated incident.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said it judged the virus “was not developed as a biological weapon,” however.
The novel coronavirus, later dubbed SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Its exact origin and how it came to affect humans remain unknown. The World Health Organization dubbed the disease caused by the virus Covid-19 and declared it a pandemic in March 2020. According to the WHO, there have been more than 770 million cases of Covid-19 and over 6.9 million deaths from the virus since then.
Both the Chinese government and the US health authorities, which were involved in funding the research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, categorically denied the possibility of a lab leak. Any mention of it was banned on most social media platforms as ‘misinformation’ until May 2021, when that policy was suddenly reversed.