Biden orders Covid origin hunt, says will press China for transparent probe: Full statement
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday asked the country's intelligence agencies to present a report on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of Covid-19 within 90 days. Biden also said that the US, along with other countries, will press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation.
In a statement released by White House, Biden said that he received a report from the intelligence agencies on Covid-19, which was first reported from China in late 2019, in April, but it was not conclusive.
The US President said he has asked intelligence agencies to "redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion".
Biden has sought a report on whether the Covid-19 virus first emerged in China from an animal source or from a laboratory accident.
The move by Biden to bring the discussion of China's role in the origin of Covid-19 signals an escalation in mounting controversy over how the virus first emerged.
The probe will have immense implications both for China, which says it is not responsible for the pandemic, and for US politics, where the lab theory has been used by Republicans to attack Beijing.
Here is the full text from White House's statement:
Back in early 2020, when Covid-19 emerged, I called for the CDC to get access to China to learn about the virus so we could fight it more effectively. The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of Covid-19.
Nevertheless, shortly after I became President, in March, I had my National Security Advisor task the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of Covid-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident. I received that report earlier this month, and asked for additional follow-up. As of today, the US Intelligence Community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios” but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question. Here is their current position: “while two elements in the IC leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”
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. 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 other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community’s efforts. And I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work.
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.