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COVID-19 virus not 'manmade or genetically modified': US intelligence community

The entire Intelligence Community (IC) has been consistently providing critical support to US policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement.

April 30, 2020 / 10:12 PM IST

The deadly coronavirus is not "manmade or genetically modified", US intelligence agencies said on Thursday, asserting that they will "rigorously" examine the emerging information to determine if the COVID-19 outbreak began through contact with infected animals or due to an accident at a laboratory in China.

The entire Intelligence Community (IC) has been consistently providing critical support to US policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement.

"The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified," ODNI said giving its assessment about the deadly virus that has so far killed more than 61,000 Americans and over 228,000 people globally.

The ODNI said the American intelligence community experts responded by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to US national security.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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"The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan," ODNI said.

The statement comes days after President Donald Trump said that the US US was looking into reports that the novel coronavirus "escaped" from a virology laboratory in China's Wuhan city.

He said intelligence operatives were reportedly gathering information about the laboratory and the initial outbreak of the pathogen.

The US has been conducting a full-scale investigation into whether the deadly virus "escaped" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Fox News had reported.

"A lot of strange things are happening, but there is a lot of investigation going on and we are going to find out. All I can say is wherever it came from, came from China in whatever form, 184 countries now are suffering because of it," Trump said.

A group of more than half-a-dozen lawmakers sent a letter to House and Senate leadership, requesting them to ensure that no future coronavirus relief funds be appropriated to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

China has denied covering up the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and accused the US of attempting to divert the public attention by insinuating that the virus originated from a Wuhan lab.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
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