Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s been no definitive scientific consensus pointing toward the origins of the virus. While the first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, experts have debated whether this coronavirus is of zoonotic origin (transmitted from bat to human, in this case) or the result of an accidental laboratory leak in China.

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, the Department of Energy has concluded – with reportedly “low confidence” – that the COVID-19 pandemic emerged due to an accidental lab leak in China. Other U.S. intelligence agencies hold divergent views on the issue, claiming there just isn’t enough evidence to rule in favor of any specific origin story.

Following the latest development, CivicScience wanted to gauge American sentiment toward the origins of COVID-19 and more specifically the “lab leak” hypothesis. Just how important is pinning down the virus’s origin to U.S. adults? According to the latest data, nearly half of U.S. adults, excluding those who answered ‘I’m not sure,’ claim it is ‘very important’ that the definitive origins of COVID-19 are determined – and nearly 80% rate it at least ‘somewhat important.’ 

But among registered Republicans, the ‘very important’ figure jumps to 67%, which is nearly twice the rate of registered Democrats (35%). Independents are the most likely to say it is ‘not at all important’ (24%), and are the most split between rating the origins ‘very important’ (52%) and ‘somewhat’ or ‘not at all’ important (48%).

Among those with an opinion on the matter, U.S. adults who believe the “lab leak” hypothesis to be accurate is more than double those who do not believe it (44% to 20%). Eighty-percent of Americans with a stance on the issue at least consider it to be a possibility. For registered Republicans, those believing the lab leak to be accurate skyrockets to 66% – more than doubling the rate of registered Democrats. Registered Democrats are the most likely to not believe this hypothesis, but even they maintain just a rate of 27% who don’t find it be accurate.

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