The third source said it is also possible the US is not sharing all of its intelligence. While the overwhelming majority is shared among the Five Eyes members, there are pockets of information that each country keeps to itself.
Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada have pointedly not backed up America’s apparent surety that the novel coronavirus was either deliberately or accidentally leaked from a Chinese lab. All three countries are members of the Five Eyes, the postwar espionage pact designed to share intelligence between like-minded governments, along with New Zealand.
It can also be revealed the Australian government trained and funded a team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to genetically modify deadly coronaviruses that could be transmitted from bats to humans and had no cure, and is now the subject of a probe into the origins of COVID-19.
As intelligence agencies investigate whether the virus inadvertently leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, the team and its research led by scientist Shi Zhengli feature in the dossier prepared by Western governments that points to several studies they conducted as areas of concern.
Those practices made the tests sent to public health labs unusable because they were contaminated with the coronavirus, and produced some inconclusive results.
Imagine that you are not carrying the virus, but you go in for testing and leave carrying the virus.
The Telegraph report stated that it is “not clear” how the tests were contaminated.
One of the suppliers – the Luxembourg-based firm Eurofins – sent an email on Monday morning to government laboratories in the UK warning that a delivery of key components called “probes and primers” had been contaminated with coronavirus and would be delayed.
The firm admitted there had been “an issue” and insisted other private providers had suffered the same problem.
The FDA’s director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, Timothy Stenzel, flew to CDC headquarters in Atlanta on the weekend of Feb. 22, but he was immediately forced to wait overnight as health department officials lobbied the CDC to give him access to the agency’s campus, according to Politico. Stenzel was there specifically to work out issues with the CDC’s coronavirus test that had already hobbled more expansive screening for weeks.
A senior administration official added that the government also moved the manufacturing of the coronavirus tests out of the Atlanta laboratory of CDC.
The official said that the CDC engaged with a third party contractor on Feb. 20 to help manufacture the testing kits. The official added that the FDA regulator, Stenzel, visited the Atlanta laboratory on Feb. 22.
The source of the virus remains a mystery. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that U.S. intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, but there is no certainty either way.
“The idea that it was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from the lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points and there’s almost nothing on the other side,” the official said.
As my colleague David Ignatius noted, the Chinese government’s original story — that the virus emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan — is shaky. Research by Chinese experts published in the Lancet in January showed the first known patient, identified on Dec. 1, had no connection to the market, nor did more than one-third of the cases in the first large cluster. Also, the market didn’t sell bats.