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More Data Sifting

US intelligence officials are sorting through genetic data that they say may help pinpoint where SARS-CoV-2 originated, CNN reports.

In May, President Joe Biden instructed US intelligence agencies to ramp up their investigations into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 after a report from the community coalesced around two potential scenarios —human infections through contact with an infected animal or through a lab accident — though most experts have said the virus likely has a natural origin. A World Health Organization report also concluded that the virus likely arose in bats and that the lab-leak theory was "extremely unlikely," though that report has come under fire with critics arguing investigators did not have full data access. The Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, subsequently said that the agency prematurely ruled out the lab-leak theory, which Science reported has been viewed by some as a capitulation to the US.

According to CNN, the information US intelligence officials now have includes genetic data from viruses studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It notes it's unclear how US intelligence officials have obtained the information but adds that many of the tools used to process such samples are cloud-based and vulnerable to hacking. However, CNN says that it is unlikely that the data includes a "smoking gun" that would provide definitive proof for either scenario.