In May, Biden told US intelligence agencies to “redouble” their efforts in investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the possibility that it emerged from a lab accident, and report back to him in 90 days. After months of work, that review ended Tuesday.
The President was briefed on the findings of the report Tuesday, two administration officials told CNN.
All the agencies in the intelligence community, though, had low confidence in either of the Covid-19 origin theories — a lab accident or natural emergence — and were switching sides as recently as Friday, a source familiar with the process told CNN. But the White House and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines were very focused on making the deadline, the source added.
The intelligence community is preparing an unclassified summary of the report that can be released to the public. Lawmakers are expected to be briefed on the findings in coming days, then the unclassified version will be made public, the administration officials said.
“I would say it typically takes a couple of days if not longer to put together an unclassified version to present publicly and obviously the President would be briefed first on any findings,” Psaki said at a White House press briefing on Monday.
Psaki continued: “So I don’t have an exact date for you, but I will expect it will be several days, a couple to several days after tomorrow.”
The intelligence community’s inability to present one theory with high confidence after three months of intense work underscores just how difficult it is to probe the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Intelligence officials have also taken a fresh look at signals intelligence, including intercepted communications and satellite imagery, that could provide clues.
Earlier this year, a US intelligence report found several researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized. It was a new detail that fueled fresh public pressure on Biden to delve deeper into the origin of the virus.
In March, Biden directed his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to task the intelligence community with preparing a report on the most up-to-date analysis of the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. Biden said he received that report in May and then asked for additional follow-up.
This story has been updated with further developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.