At long last, public institutions are beginning to admit that Covid likely came from a lab leak. The latest is the U.S. Department of Energy, according to a leaked classified intelligence report, which joined the FBI in saying “the virus likely spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The FBI concurs.

This is good to see, though three years late. It is still surrounded by far too much secrecy and grossly misleading obfuscations by “leaders” such as Anthony Fauci, as well as a number of unnamed federal agencies, according to the WSJ dispatch. Even worse, while bad information is always a risk, in this case some of the misinformation came from the scientific community—notably a letter engineered by Ecohealth Alliance (which worked on coronavirus research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with financial backing from Fauci’s federal institute. The letter was signed by a roster of scientists, including the president of  EcoHealth, Peter Daszak, heaping scorn on the lab-origin theory, and anyone who might consider it.

While we’ve seen no definitive proof that it was a lab leak (China with its coverups and denial of access has seen to that), the circumstantial evidence is enormous. The plain old common sense high probability from the early days was always that it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This is based on proximity, the nature of the WIV’s bat collecting and research, and the Chinese government’s efforts to cover it up, destroy specimens, and bar access (while hosting farcical China-compliant inquiries by the World Health Organization, which predictably got nowhere).

There were also the sloppy conditions in the lab, which were so bad that in 2018 State Department officials working in China had cabled Washington a warning that the WIV displayed “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”

But never mind the obvious, or the failure to this day to find any intermediate animal host. Anyone who argued that the virus might have leaked from the lab was attacked, ridiculed, and canceled for contradicting “the science.” In part, it became a debate in which scientific credentials were required for entry, and then any scientists who piped up to support the lab-origin likelihood were shut down.

This means if it was indeed a lab leak—and from early days it certainly looked like it was—then China created this virus that inflicted so much havoc and loss on the world, lied about it, and got away with it. As we face the growing challenge of how to deter China’s aggression and plans for global dominance, this is a dangerous and terrible precedent.