In this photo taken on February 3, 2021, members of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the Covid-19 coronavirus arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Hubei province. Photo: AFP / Hector Retamal

Although there is no real evidence that Albert Einstein said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” I am willing to give him the credit for the purpose of this commentary, as I want to argue that there is a method in one’s madness.

This certainly appears to be true when it comes to US intelligence agencies that are visibly desperate to continue with their comical “investigation” of the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

In the latest sequel to the findings revealed in August after a 90-day review ordered by US President Joe Biden, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published an unclassified report on October 29 that does not seem to shed new light on the matter.

The document maintains that intelligence agencies remain undecided on whether the Covid-19 outbreak was caused by animal-to-human transmission or a leak of the coronavirus from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, arguing that both scenarios are plausible.

On the one hand, the declassified publication cites four unnamed agencies that argue with “low confidence” in favor of the former storyline and, on the other hand, says only one agency has a “moderate” belief in the latter theory.

Even though the agencies involved have tried really hard to make their positions sound plausible, since analysts ran a “Team A/Team B” dispute in an attempt to strengthen or weaken their arguments before writing the report, the conclusion is that it is highly likely that they may never be able to identify the origins of the virus.

What is cited as certain is that all of the agencies involved in the production of the document dismiss the premise that the virus was genetically engineered by the Chinese to be used as a biological weapon.

“We remain skeptical of allegations that SARS-CoV-2 was a biological weapon because they are supported by scientifically invalid claims, their proponents do not have direct access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), or their proponents are suspected of spreading disinformation,” the official assessment reads.

While the lab-leak theory has been considered to be a highly unlikely hypothesis by a joint WHO-China mission early this year that concluded the virus probably spread from bats to humans via another animal, one would wonder why Biden still insists on continuing to embarrass his spy agencies and, in the broader sense, his country.

The reasons for this “political farce,” to quote Liu Pengyu, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, are international and domestic, and the two are interconnected.

The international reasons relate to keeping the pressure on China for the sake of questioning Beijing’s credibility as a responsible country and, if lucky, to force it to allow US intelligence access to its territory under the guise of the necessity to access data to produce a more credible report based on direct, not circumstantial, evidence.

“China’s cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of Covid-19,” reads the report. “Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information, and blame other countries, including the United States.”

In fact, as was confirmed by a New York Times report that disclosed an internal CIA memo highlighting the agency’s failures in building intelligence networks in “adversarial countries” published in May, China remains a challenging place to be penetrated by the agency, which the Covid-19 origins investigation could change.

As far as domestic reasons are concerned, the farce is driven by political pressure from the Republican Party that wants to punish Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for approving the coronavirus research grant for the Wuhan Institute of Virology worth $600,000 and criticizing then-president Trump for mishandling the pandemic.

Notably, according to a new Hill-HarrisX survey conducted from October 26-27, 75% of Republicans believe that Biden’s chief medical adviser should resign, as opposed to 32% of Democrats who want the same.

As we can see, domestic and international factors prevent the US from engaging in a sober, science-based effort to trace the origin of the virus as they put revenge against China over admitting the country’s own failures in managing the pandemic situation.

Just like during the Trump era, experts like Fauci are treated as scapegoats instead of heroes. Sadly, this does not bode well for the future and significantly undermines US credibility when it comes to international cooperation in the area of pandemic preparedness.

Adriel Kasonta

Adriel Kasonta is a London-based political risk consultant and lawyer. He is an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) in Moscow and former chairman of the International Affairs Committee at the oldest conservative think tank in the UK, Bow Group. Kasonta is a graduate of London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). You can follow him on Twitter @Adriel_Kasonta.