Biden pushes US spies to investigate Covid ‘leak’ theory after ‘SHUTTING DOWN’ Wuhan lab probe
PRESIDENT Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a review of the pandemic "lab leak" theory after allegedly shutting down a previous probe into its origins.
He said on Wednesday that the intelligence community will "redouble their efforts" to discover the origins of the Covid outbreak and report back to him within 90 days.
They will be investigating whether the virus jumped from an animal host to humans or whether it was accidentally released from a lab in Wuhan, China.
The theory that the pandemic was caused by a lab leak has become increasingly mainstream in recent days despite being condemned as a conspiracy theory over the past year and a half.
It was often pushed by former President Donald Trump who did not think the pandemic erupted from human contact with an infected animal.
He was recently joined by the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci as pressure for a deeper investigation grew.
"As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question,” Biden said in a statement.
He revealed that two of the 18 intelligence agencies believe in the animal link but that another "leans more toward" the lab theory.
The president said that each of these agencies has "low or moderate confidence" in their stance.
Biden added that "the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other."
The Biden administration has spent months minimalizing the possibility that the virus originated in a lab but is now calling on China to be transparent about the outbreak.
It called on China to cooperate with an international probe into the pandemic's origins.
Biden has directed the US national laboratories to also assist with the investigation.
“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,” he said.
Biden has previously said that he believes there may never be a full understanding of the origins of the Covid pandemic as a result of the Chinese government's refusal to cooperate with investigations.
“The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19,” he said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the White House supports a new World Health Organization investigation in China.
Yet she added that it “would require China finally stepping up and allowing access needed to determine the origins.”
It was revealed on Tuesday that Biden's administration shut down a Donald Trump-era investigation into the Wuhan institute at the center of the Covid-19 lab "leak" theory.
The State Department effort to prove Covid originated in a Chinese lab was reportedly stopped by Biden over concerns about the "quality of work" – but will raise concerns of a potential whitewash.
The probe was launched last fall by allies of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CNN reports, citing sources close to the matter.
The news comes as a renewed interest into whether the virus could have originated in a lab has been made public.
A bombshell report released by the Wall Street Journal this week alleged that three staffers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill and had to be hospitalized in November 2019, weeks before China disclosed the outbreak to the world.
The report led to renewed calls for a broader probe into whether Covid-19 could have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, where the pandemic is widely believed to have begun.
Even Dr Fauci admitted that he was "not convinced" that the virus is naturally occurring.
Biden officials reportedly made the decision to shut down the probe after being briefed on the team's findings in February and March of this year.
Those involved in the probe that was shuttered say that it was an honest effort to look into whether China's biological weapons program could have played a role in the pandemic's origin, according to CNN.
A WHO task force spent four weeks investigating the outbreak in Wuhan in January and February.
The organization concluded it was "extremely unlikely" that it was caused by a lab leak, but noted that further investigation is needed.
However, earlier this month a group of leading scientists said the possibility of coronavirus accidentally escaping from the Wuhan lab in China "remains viable."
In a letter published in the journal Science, 18 researchers from Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Cambridge blasted the WHO and scientists who followed it for failing to consider that there may have been an "accidental" lab escape.
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