Washington, February 26: The Covid-19 virus leaked out of a laboratory in China, according to a report by the US Energy Department. The report -- a classified intelligence report was recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress, the Wall Street Journal reported.

It highlights how different intelligence agencies have arrived at disparate judgments about the pandemic's origin. As per people who have read the classified report, the Energy Department made its judgement with "low confidence", the WSJ reported. COVID-19 Pandemic Most Likely Arose From Lab Leak in China: US Energy Department.

Several agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also agree to the lab leak claim. The agency, in 2021, came to the conclusion that the pandemic was likely the result of a lab leak in 2021 with "moderate confidence" and still holds to this view.

However, four other agencies, along with a national intelligence panel, still judge that it was likely the result of a natural transmission, and two are undecided, the media report said.

The Energy Department "continues to support the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals in investigating the origins of Covid-19, as the President directed", a spokesperson was quoted as saying. The agency has, however, declined to discuss details of its assessment, the report said.

"Kudos to those who are willing to set aside their preconceptions and objectively re-examine what we know and don't know about Covid origins," said David Relman, a Stanford University microbiologist, who welcomed word of the updated findings. COVID-19 Origin: Pune-Based Scientist Couple Supports Lab-Leak Theory; Growing Evidence Suggests Coronavirus May Have Leaked From the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

"My plea is that we not accept an incomplete answer or give up because of political expediency," Relman said. The Covid-19 virus first circulated in Wuhan, China, no later than November 2019, according to the US 2021 intelligence report.

More than two years after the pandemic, the origins of Covid-19 remain unclear. It has been a political and scientific debate with scientists and politicians globally contending that the coronavirus jumped into people from bats, or have been leaked from a laboratory

China, on its part, has placed limits on investigations by the World Health Organization. The country has opposed the virus lab leak theory and has suggested it emerged outside China.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 26, 2023 08:56 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).