The Covid pandemic was most likely the result of a lab leak, according to a bombshell Senate report.
Policymakers said there was 'substantial' evidence of an accident at a research facility — while evidence for a natural spillover is 'still missing'.
The interim report concluded that China 's unwillingness to cooperate or open up the lab in question meant it 'no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt'.
GOP members of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions reviewed hundreds of studies into the origins of Covid and interviewed 'several dozen' experts over the past 15 months.
Writing in the report, they conclude: 'Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.'
They add: 'Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, critical evidence that would prove that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and resulting COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a natural zoonotic spillover is missing.'
The report accepts there is still crucial missing information about how the pandemic truly came to be — with no direct evidence for either natural or synthetic origin.
But 'the lack of transparency and collaboration' from China 'prevents reaching a more definitive conclusion', the senate committee adds.
'The hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.'
Proponents of the lab leak theory — including former President Donald Trump — were initially dismissed as conspiracy theorists or denounced as xenophobes.