US media says one of the federal agencies comprising the country's intelligence community now concludes the COVID-19 pandemic was most likely caused by a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the Energy Department recently submitted to the White House a report concluding that the virus likely accidentally spread from the laboratory.
The US intelligence community has been divided over the origin of the pandemic. The latest report coincides with the view held by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and others. Other agencies are either undecided or have concluded that the virus leapt from an animal to human.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday that the intelligence community and the rest of the government are still investigating the matter and there has not been a definitive conclusion.
US House Republican Mike Gallagher, who heads the chamber's special committee on China, has called on the government to press the country to accept an international investigation.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters on Monday that the experts of the joint mission of China and the World Health Organization have concluded that "a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely."
She added, "Certain parties should stop rehashing the 'lab leak' narrative, stop smearing China and stop politicizing origins-tracing."