Biden promises to investigate coronavirus origin within 90 days
Washington, May 26 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that he ordered the US intelligence community to deliver to him a report on the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic within 90 days.
Biden was responding to the resurgence in speculation on the origin of the coronavirus after the theory that it emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, gained ground in recent days.
The president’s announcement came after a report by US intelligence agencies found that several researchers at the Wuhan Virology Institute became ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized, as reported in an article in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week.
“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 in a statement released by the White House on the origin of the virus that has killed at least three million people around the world over the past 15 months or so.
The president said that US intelligence is now considering “two likely scenarios” – first, that the virus comes from human contact with an infected animal and second, that it was manufactured in a laboratory and was inadvertently released in a lab accident.
Regarding these two possibilities, Biden said that two of the US intelligence services are leaning toward the first scenario and a third toward the lab escape idea, albeit both with “low or moderate confidence.” The White House provided no details about which agencies favor which options.
“The majority of (the US intelligence community) … do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” he said.
Assistant White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also refused to reveal which agency is – at present – inclining toward the lab accident idea, but she said that the US will pressure China to participate in a “transparent” investigation into the matter.
The government announcement comes after a resurgence in speculation about the origin of Covid-19, a situation that motivated the country’s main epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to say on Tuesday that he is “not convinced” that the virus developed naturally and encouraged more investigation.
Besides announcing this investigation, Biden said that the US and its partners will pressure China to participate in a full, transparent and evidence-based investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence it may have.
“As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China,” the president added in the statement.
The announcement comes after the US asked the World Trade Organization to conduct “independent and transparent” studies of the origin of the coronavirus.
The US in February had expressed its dissatisfaction with the preliminary results of the investigations carried out early this year by international experts in Wuhan to determine the possible origin of the pandemic, and Washington said that Chinese authorities had hidden data from the WHO mission.
The experts said at the time, after four weeks of work in China, that the most probable hypothesis for the origin of the new coronavirus was that it had been transmitted to humans from wild animals via one or more species that acted as intermediaries.
In recent hours, the Republican opposition, headed by former President Donald Trump, has insisted that Covid-19 was created in a Chinese laboratory and has lambasted the WHO.
One of the most visible faces in the clamor against the WHO has been Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who in remarks to Fox News said that the WHO is not capable of mounting the necessary investigation because the Chinese will not allow it.
He said that he thinks it’s very probable that the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, which runs China, do not know exactly what happened because they don’t have a system whereby if a person was at the Wuhan lab and there was accident that allowed the virus to escape that person could report it.