- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The majority of Americans now believe that COVID-19 sprang from a Chinese lab, according to a new poll that shows recent work by the FBI and the Energy Department has swayed the public.

The lab theory has been kicking around since the virus first sent the world reeling in 2020, but proponents were viciously mocked. Now, several new assessments say the lab explanation is not just plausible, but the most likely explanation.

A Tipp Insights poll taken this month in the wake of those assessments found 52% of Americans surveyed now back the lab theory. That’s up from 44% in May 2021 and 47% in late 2021 and early 2022.

Republicans were more likely to support the lab theory than Democrats.

Of those who buy into the lab theory, more than half say the virus was released on purpose, Tipp Insights found. Another 31% say the virus leaked accidentally.

The theory centers on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was conducting coronavirus research, some of that with the assistance of U.S. taxpayers’ money.

The other major competing explanation is that the virus emerged from exposure to an animal, likely at a Chinese wet market.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told Fox News a week ago that the bureau has long assessed the Wuhan lab as the most likely point of origin.

The Energy Department also embraced that explanation in a recent reevaluation, according to The Wall Street Journal. The department’s assessment was delivered with “low confidence,” according to the report.

The White House says that’s not a consensus view, pointing to other federal agencies that still buy into the animal explanation.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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