United States President Joe Biden on May 26 ordered the U.S. intelligence community “to redouble their efforts” in investigating the origins of COVID-19 and to report back in 90 days.
In a statement, Biden asked federal agencies “to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” on where COVID-19 came from after he received a report earlier this month that had “not reached a definitive conclusion.”
Biden also directed the intelligence community to keep Congress “fully apprised” of 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,” Biden said.
The move comes amid growing speculation on the origins of the virus — if it came from an animal then passed onto humans or if it was a result of a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China.
According to some authorities, early COVID-19 cases came from a seafood market in Wuhan, while some scientists suggest that the virus might have emerged from human contact with infected animals.
The move also comes after a U.S. intelligence report revealed that researchers of the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill and were hospitalized in November 2019, a month before the Chinese government reported the first cases of the new disease.
When asked if Biden’s announcement was linked to the U.S. intelligence report of researchers falling ill, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a press briefing that the issue was “something that the President has been working on for some time.”
“Getting to the bottom of the origin of this pandemic will help us understand how to prepare for the next pandemic,” Jean-Pierre said.
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