FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that the bureau believes Covid-19 “most likely” originated in a “Chinese government-controlled lab.
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident,” he told Fox News.
It is the first public confirmation of the FBI’s classified judgement of how the pandemic virus emerged.
China has denied a lab leak in Wuhan, calling the allegation defamatory.
Mr Wray’s comments come a day after the US ambassador to China called for the country to “be more honest” about Covid’s origins.
In his interview on Tuesday, Mr Wray said China “has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate” efforts to identify the source of the global pandemic.
“And that’s unfortunate for everybody,” he said.
Some studies suggest the virus made the leap from animals to humans in Wuhan, China, possibly at the city’s seafood and wildlife market.
The market is a 40-minute drive from a world-leading virus laboratory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which conducted research into coronaviruses.