(CNN) — China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it is “highly unlikely” that covid-19 came from a laboratory leak, in response to an intelligence report from the US Department of Energy that assessed that the virus escaped accidentally. from a laboratory in Wuhan.
Mao Ning, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said their conclusion is “authoritative and scientific,” and was reached jointly by the World Health Organization and Chinese experts based on field visits to relevant laboratories in Wuhan.
“The parties concerned must stop raising arguments about laboratory leaks, stop smearing China, and stop politicizing the issue of the origin of the virus,” Mao said.
As CNN previously reported, two sources said the Department of Energy assessed in the intelligence report that it had “low confidence” that the covid-19 virus escaped from a laboratory.
Intelligence agencies can make assessments with low, medium, or high confidence. A low confidence assessment generally means that the information obtained is not reliable enough or is too fragmented to make a more definitive analytical judgment, or that there is not enough information available to draw a stronger conclusion.
This further adds to the division in the US government over whether the covid-19 pandemic began in China as a result of a laboratory leak or arose naturally.
— From CNN’s Beijing bureau, above reporting by Jeremy Herb and Natasha Bertrand.