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Rabu, 26 Mei 2021

Covid-19 origins: Joe Biden gives US intelligence 90 days to find more information, says lab leak theory is being considered - NEWS.com.au

US President Joe Biden has given US intelligence agencies 90 days to find more information about the origins of coronavirus, in the hope of reaching a “definitive conclusion”.

In a revealing statement today, Mr Biden said the intelligence community had “coalesced” around two possibilities – that Covid-19 emerged from human contact with an infected animal, or that it came from a lab accident in China.

He said one “element” of the intelligence community was “leaning” towards the lab theory, while two elements were leaning towards the animal theory.

The majority of US agencies, however, believe there is insufficient evidence to draw a conclusion either way.

Mr Biden’s order comes days after The Wall Street Journal revealed three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were sick enough to seek hospital care in November 2019.

That article added fuel to the theory that Covid-19 leaked from the lab, and today’s statement from the President confirms it is being actively considered.

RELATED: Wuhan lab theory gains momentum

President asks for redoubling of efforts from intelligence agencies

The President started his statement with an implicit swipe at his predecessor, Donald Trump, who repeatedly promoted the lab theory throughout last year.

“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,” Mr Biden said.

“Nevertheless, shortly after I became President, in March, I had my national security adviser task the intelligence community [IC] to prepare a report on the 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.

“Here is [the IC’s] current position: ‘While two elements in the IC lean 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 IC to redouble their efforts to collect and analyse 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 IC’s efforts. And I have asked the IC 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.”

RELATED: China lying about Covid cases and deaths

The Biden administration has previously focused on pushing the World Health Organisation (WHO) to further investigate the pandemic’s origins.

“It is our position that we need to get to the bottom of this, and we need a completely transparent process from China. We need the WHO to assist in that matter. We don’t feel like we have that now,” Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior Covid response adviser, said during yesterday’s media briefing.

“We need to get to the bottom of this, whatever the answer may be.”

Trump says he has been proven right

In recent days, Mr Trump has again highlighted the lab theory, saying his claims last year have been proven right.

“Now everybody is agreeing that I was right when I very early on called Wuhan as the source of Covid-19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus,” he wrote on his blog yesterday.

“To me it was obvious from the beginning, but I was badly criticised, as usual. Now they are all saying, ‘He was right.’ Thank you!”

To be clear, both theories involve the virus originating in Wuhan, whether it came from the region’s wet markets or the lab.

However Mr Trump is certainly correct that many in the media and the Democratic Party dismissed the lab theory last year.

This week CNN reported the Biden administration had shut down a Trump-era State Department investigation, which sought to prove the theory, over concerns about “the quality of its work”.

The current State Department hit back at the story, saying the investigation had completed its work, though sources involved with the inquiry disputed that.

Australia is among the countries that have demanded an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last year that it was “entirely reasonable and sensible” to investigate the matter thoroughly, but China did not take the comments well.

“Now, it would seem entirely reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this all occurred, so we can learn the lessons and prevent it from happening again,” Mr Morrison said at the time.

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https://news.google.com/__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?oc=5

2021-05-26 21:15:51Z
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