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Biden says he will release findings of probe into coronavirus origins

Biden says he will release findings of probe into coronavirus origins
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President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE on Thursday said that he would publicly release findings of an intelligence community review of the origins of COVID-19 that he has ordered completed within 90 days.

“Yes,” Biden answered when asked by reporters at Joint Base Andrews if he would release the findings in full.  He added: “Unless there's something I'm unaware of.”

The remarks from the president come a day after he ordered intelligence officials to “redouble their efforts” to come to a conclusion on the origins of the virus.

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A previous investigation did not produce a definitive answer on whether COVID-19 spread through contact between an animal and a human or as a result of a laboratory accident.

Biden said Wednesday that he required an intelligence community report on the coronavirus origins in March that was delivered to him earlier this month. 

The Office of Director of National Intelligence affirmed in a statement on Thursday that the intelligence community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios” of the virus’s origin, namely that it emerged naturally from contact between a human and infected animals or from a lab accident.

“While two elements of the IC lean toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter — each with low or moderate confidence — the majority of elements within the IC do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Strategic Communications Amanda Schoch said.

“The IC continues to examine all available evidence, consider different perspectives, and aggressively collect and analyze new information to identify the virus's origins,” she added. 

The new report, announced by the president, is expect to be delivered by the end of August.

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It is unclear whether further investigation will bring U.S. officials closer to a definitive conclusion on the origins of the virus. The White House has called on China to be more transparent and forthcoming with data and information on the outbreak, which is believed to have begun in Wuhan.

The lab theory was initially dismissed by scientists, but some have been more open to it over the past week. A Wall Street Journal report published Sunday said that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill that they sought hospital care in November 2019, around the time that the virus first spread.

The White House until Wednesday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to lead an independent, expert-driven investigation into the origins of the disease free from interference from China.

The WHO led a report issued earlier this year that found the coronavirus likely jumped from animals to humans and labeled the lab scenario “extremely unlikely.”

Scientists have since called for further investigation into the origins of the virus, which has killed almost 600,000 people in the U.S. and 3.5 million globally.