Apr 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.S. intelligence community: Coronavirus "was not manmade or genetically modified"

Richard Grenell

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. Photo: Milos Miskov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced in a statement Thursday that it is investigating whether the coronavirus pandemic began through human contact with wild animals in China or if it was the result of a laboratory accident in Wuhan.

Why it matters: The ODNI said it concurs with the scientific consensus that the virus was "not manmade or genetically modified." The statement comes after some U.S. officials have promoted an unsubstantiated theory linking the virus to an infectious-disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The big picture: Senior Trump administration officials have pushed U.S. spy agencies to find evidence supporting the theory, the New York Times reports.

  • China has denied the allegation, but senior Chinese officials have also pushed their own theories linking the coronavirus to a military┬álaboratory in the U.S.
  • The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S.-China relations spiraling, alarming analysts who say the two countries are at their most dangerous point in decades, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.

Go deeper: What we know about the Chinese lab at the center of the coronavirus controversy

Go deeper