Story at a glance
- “I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion,” President Biden announced Wednesday.
- The theory that the coronavirus may have accidentally been released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, has gained traction in recent months after being initially dismissed.
- Groups of several prominent scientists have called for a more thorough and truly independent investigation.
President Biden has asked the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” their efforts in investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, as the source of the virus has yet to be definitively determined.
In a statement Wednesday, Biden said he had asked intelligence agencies to provide a report on the most up-to-date analysis of the origins of the virus shortly after he took office.
He said he received the report earlier this month which found the intelligence agencies had coalesced around two theories for how the virus originated: either it spread naturally from animal to human or accidentally leaked from a lab.
Biden said a definitive conclusion has yet to be made, but two elements of the intelligence community lean toward the human contact with an infected animal theory, while one leans toward the lab-leak scenario.
The statement said the agencies have “low or moderate confidence” about their assessment.
“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days,” Biden said.
“As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China. I have also asked that this effort include work by our National Labs and agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community’s efforts,” he said.
The theory that the coronavirus may have accidentally been released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, has gained traction in recent months after being initially dismissed.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) published findings from an investigation that the virus most likely jumped from an animal to humans, investigators have yet to find the intermediate host.
Groups of several prominent scientists have called for a more thorough and truly independent investigation, arguing officials were not granted access to the necessary raw data by Chinese authorities.
A recent Wall Street Journal report also detailed how three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, citing a U.S. intelligence report.
The report issued in the last days of the Trump administration said researchers at the lab became sick “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.” It’s not clear how all three researchers became sick.
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