The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

New intelligence has led the Department of Energy (DOE) to shift its stance on COVID-19's origins and support the lab leak theory, once deemed a conspiracy by some politicians, journalists, and scientists.

The Details: On Monday, news broke that the DOE now concludes with "low confidence" that the COVID-19 pandemic most likely began with an accidental leak at a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The DOE now joins the FBI, which holds "medium confidence," in giving credibility to the theory. The CIA remains publicly undecided on the origins of the virus, and the National Intelligence Council is joined by several other unnamed agencies in supporting the natural animal-to-human transmission theory.

The Response: The report led to renewed calls for investigation, action, and transparency regarding origins of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously voted to mandate the Biden Administration declassify intelligence pertaining to the pandemic origins. The report coincides with increasingly fraught relations between Washington and Beijing. On Tuesday, a bipartisan House committee held it first hearing to discuss efforts to curb China's rising global influence.

How the Media Covered It: Right-rated outlets covered the report more frequently than center- and left-rated outlets. Right-rated outlets highlighted push-back on the lab leak theory since the pandemic began and criticized mainstream sources for previously describing the theory as a "debunked conspiracy." Left-rated outlets highlighted unanswered questions that remain, as well as the fact that no released report as of right now holds high confidence in the lab leak theory. Right-rated outlets also focused on U.S.-funded "gain of function" virus research at the lab; most center- and left-rated sources don't.

More from AllSides

Snippets from the Center 

Covid Lab Leak Theory: Some Government Agencies Believes It— Here's Why Most Scientists Don't
Forbes (analysis)

"Politicians and some government agencies continue to contend the Covid-19 pandemic started as a leak from the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, even as scientists and public health officials say the evidence points to it naturally emerging from animals at a food market in China."

COVID Lab Leak Revelations: What We Know and What We Don't
Newsweek (analysis)

"Members of the U.S. intelligence community have come to different conclusions about the origins of the virus. A prior intelligence assessment of the origins of COVID-19, based on information up to the end of August 2021, gave three competing views on the matter."

Snippets from the Right 

This is the price China must pay for unleashing COVID on the world
Fox News (opinion)

"China must pay a price. Biden will have to assemble a coalition of countries finally willing to push back against China’s carelessness and deception about COVID-19, as well as its ongoing theft of intellectual property, disregard for human rights, dishonest posturing about climate change and economic coercion."

The Energy Department Lab Investigating Covid Knows What It's Talking About
National Review (opinion)

"Why would the U.S. Department of Energy be weighing in on an investigation into the origins of Covid-19? The short answer is because the Energy Department has a special division that, as part of its mission to track and mitigate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, specializes in the study of biological weapons such as viruses."

Snippets from the Left

COVID 'lab leak' theory: Does the DOE's assessment hold water?
The Week (analysis)

"China has disclosed little information about the first cases in 2019, stoking allegations of a cover-up. Will the latest report by the Energy Department change Washington's understanding of how the pandemic started, or merely stir up more heated exchanges in an inconclusive debate?"

Republicans bumble about 'bioweapons' after FBI director promotes COVID 'lab leak' theory on Fox News
AlterNet (opinion)

"In remarks that could further fray the already damaged relationship between Washington and Beijing, Director Wray tossed around the allegation that COVID is the result of "a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans and that’s precisely what that capability was designed for.'"

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