“The majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” he added.

By Balthazar Malevolent


President Joe Biden has directed the US intelligence agency to “redouble” its efforts to figure out where the coronavirus originated, citing conflicting reports on whether the virus originated naturally or as a result of a lab accident.

Biden said in a statement Wednesday that the intelligence community gave him a report earlier this month that revealed it was split on the pandemic's origins. “Each with low or moderate confidence,” Biden added, two “elements” of the community lean toward animals as the source, while one leans toward a lab origin.

“The majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” he added.

Scientists have yet to determine the virus's origins more than a year after the biggest pandemic in over a century broke out. The first Covid-19 cases were discovered in Wuhan, China, where the Beijing government maintains a high-security coronavirus research center.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, politicians in the United States have discussed the virus's possible origins. Chinese reluctance to international investigations, as well as Beijing's own contradictory explanations for the virus's origin, have stoked suspicions of the Wuhan lab.

Robert Redfield, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Donald Trump, warned earlier this year that the virus had most certainly escaped from the Wuhan facility.

‘Press China’

Biden's remarks on Wednesday makes it clear that the US is still looking into whether the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, a theory that health experts have largely dismissed.

In March, Biden instructed National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to draft a report on the virus's origins. He announced on Wednesday that a new report will be issued in 90 days.

“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,” Biden said. That includes “specific questions for China,” he said.

“The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,” Biden said.

Karine Jean-Pierre, a spokeswoman for the White House, declined to disclose which part of the intelligence community thought the facility was the most likely source. She claimed the study was inconclusive, but she wouldn't say if Biden would take any action against China as a result of it.

“We need to get to the bottom of this. As we all know, we’ve lost almost 600,000 Americans to Covid-19, and we have to get a better sense of the origins of Covid-19 and also: how do we prevent the next pandemic?” she said.

Asked whether Biden’s use of the phrase “lab accident” ruled out the possibility that it came from the lab purposefully, she replied: ”We haven’t ruled out anything yet.”

Journal Reports

According to the Wall Street Journal, US information shows that three lab researchers were sick enough to seek hospital treatment in November 2019. The Chinese government is also restricting access to an abandoned copper mine in southwest China where researchers from the Wuhan lab obtained coronavirus samples following a 2012 incident in which six miners were ill with a "mystery" respiratory ailment, according to the Journal. Three people died.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, disputed the Journal report on Monday.

“We don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion about the origins,” she said. “There is a need to look into a range of options. We need data, we need an independent investigation, and that’s exactly what we’ve been calling for.”

During a hearing on Wednesday, Diana DeGette, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigation subcommittee, said she favored establishing whether the virus originated in a lab.

“We’re going to do whatever investigation is appropriate,” she said in response to subcommittee Republican Michael Burgess of Texas, a medical doctor, who emphasized the panel needed to look into the virus’s origins.

According to a World Health Organization research released earlier this year, the virus most likely transferred to people from bats via an undisclosed intermediary species. The report was challenged by the White House as being inadequate and lacking key evidence, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented, "I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough," and that the lab-leak idea needed more research.

Republican lawmakers have called for both investigations and retaliation, if it’s ever established the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab.

“If it did come from the lab, that’s something we need to know, right, because that’s a completely different problem for the world, and people who are in charge of that lab, and who set in motion this virus, need to be held accountable in some fashion to deter this in the future,” Senator Lindsey Graham said Wednesday.

The South Carolina Republican added: “I don’t know if it came from the lab or not, but it’s getting more likely that that’s the answer, as you exclude other possibilities.”

In March, Redfield, who oversaw the CDC under Trump, said he believes the Wuhan lab is the most likely source. The bulk of the public health community disagrees, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a Biden coronavirus consultant.

“I still believe that the most likely scenario is that this was a natural occurrence, but no one knows that 100% for sure,” Fauci said Wednesday in testimony on Capitol Hill.

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