Mr. Biden instructed national security adviser Jake Sullivan to follow up, which he did in a meeting with intelligence officials in early March. The White House ordered a written assessment from intelligence officials. Delivered to Mr. Biden in May, the assessment showed one intelligence agency leaning toward the hypothesis that the virus leaked out of a lab and two intelligence agencies leaning toward the view that it arose naturally—all with low or moderate confidence. Most agencies said there wasn’t enough evidence to render a judgment.
The National Security Agency, the officials said, will look for clues in its vast stores of intercepted foreign electronic communications, most of which aren’t analyzed in real time. The effort is being aided by experts from government labs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other parts of the Department of Health and Human Services. Experts outside the government are being consulted, as are allied intelligence agencies.
One outcome, Mr. Biden said in a May statement when he announced the review, could be a list of specific questions that the U.S. would put to China as well as recommendations on what additional inquiries might be needed.
Given the possibility that the intelligence review might be inconclusive, there are already calls by leading lawmakers, some experts outside government and a grass-roots group of people affected by Covid-19 for an independent national commission.
“This is not a major threat that the people of the United States should be worried about.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, January 21, 2020.
“I think you are going to see a dampening down of U.S. cases.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, February 3, 2020.
“In order to get a vaccine that’s practically deployable for people to use, it’s going to be at least a year to a year and a half at best.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, February 26, 2020
“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, March 8, 2020
Dr. Fauci was informed as early as February 2020 that Covid-19 exhibited unusual viral characteristics that suggested it could have potentially been engineered in a lab, according to emails recently obtained by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.
Some Republican lawmakers have used the emails to accuse Dr. Fauci of having played down the lab-leak theory.
“Most of the people thought what all of us were thinking at the time—that it was very likely a natural evolution. But we never ruled out the possibility. We were very open about it. It wasn’t like we were trying to hide anything,” he said.
Dr. Fauci said misinformation that has been circulated about the virus, particularly around it being a hoax, has ultimately cost lives, because some people didn’t wear masks or social-distance as a result.