President Joe Biden says the U.S. will pressure China to participate in a “complete and transparent” investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
U.S. President Joe Biden has instructed U.S. intelligence agencies to review classified information about the origins of the coronavirus, including whether it came from human-animal contact or a research laboratory at the U.S. China.
In a statement Wednesday, Biden said the U.S. intelligence community “came together around two likely scenarios,” but has yet to reach a definitive conclusion on where the coronavirus originated.
He also doesn’t have much confidence in his current findings and remains divided on which one is most likely.
As a result, Biden said he has asked U.S. intelligence agencies “to redouble their efforts to gather and analyze information that can bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” and to report to him in 90 days.
“As part of this report, I have called for areas of further research that may be needed, including specific questions for China,” the U.S. president said.
A World Health Organization (WHO) to study launched in late March it was concluded that the transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal was the most likely scenario and that escape to the laboratory was “extremely unlikely”.
However, questions persist about the level of access that WHO researchers had during a research mission to Wuhan (China), as well as previous reports of disease among researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A group of 14 countries raised concerns on the WHO report, citing delays and lack of full access to data, while the WHO chief also called for more detailed investigation into the theory, the outbreak was the result of a laboratory leak. China has strongly rejected this accusation.
Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies have been examining reports researchers from the Wuhan Virology Laboratory they were seriously ill in 2019, a month before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported.
But U.S. government sources warned earlier this week that there is still no evidence that the disease originated in the lab.
A still-classified U.S. intelligence report, distributed during the administration of former President Donald Trump, alleged that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill in November 2019 that they seek hospital care, sources familiar with U.S. intelligence reports and analysis told Reuters news agency.
According to one of the sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, it was still unclear whether the investigators were hospitalized or what their symptoms were.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday the reports were “completely false.”
Meanwhile, Biden said Wednesday that “the United States will also continue to work with like-minded partners around the world to pressure China to participate in a comprehensive, transparent, evidence-based international investigation that provides access to all data and evidence. relevant “.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president’s directive should not be interpreted as a U.S. rejection of the WHO study, but rather aimed at providing the best US information and resources to resolve ongoing issues.
“The WHO does its thing and the [intelligence community] doing what they currently do is not mutually exclusive, ”said Jean-Pierre.
“This can happen at the same time,” he told White House reporters.