It’s a major flipflop for the agency, which steadfastly rejected the possibility last year amid criticism it was being overly deferential to Beijing. The theory has been increasingly considered serious by experts and officials.

The World Health Organization angered China with its report, which again repeated its baseless suggestion that the virus actually originated from an American laboratory, according to NBC News.

The country issued a forceful response. Its foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “The lab leak theory is totally a lie concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes, which has nothing to do with science.”

The report concluded Wuhan’s seafood market likely “played an important role” early in the pandemic as it was linked to a significant number of patients in December 2019.

But they noted there are still “gaps in our knowledge” about how the virus got to the market and where the first “spillover” between animals and humans took place.

It recommended “further investigation” to fill the gaps.

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