United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday asked the country’s intelligence agencies to report to him within 90 days about the origin of the Covid-19 virus.
In a statement released by the White House, Biden said that in March the US authorities had asked the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on their analysis of the virus’ origin. He said the analysis looked into possibilities of whether the virus “emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident”.
The US president said that “two elements” in the Intelligence Community analysis indicated that the Covid-19 virus originated due to the first scenario, while one element leaned towards the possibility that it originated in a laboratory.
“Majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” Biden added.
Biden said he has now asked the Intelligence Community to “redouble their efforts” to collect and analyse information to provide a “definitive conclusion” 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,” Biden said. He added that US will work to “press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence”.
The Chinese Embassy in the US reacted sharply to the development. In a statement released on Thursday, the embassy spokesperson, without naming the US or Biden, called out the “conspiracy theory of lab leak”.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, some political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and blame game...” the statement noted. “To politicize origin tracing, a matter of science, will not only make it hard to find the origin of the virus, but give free rein to the “political virus” and seriously hamper international cooperation on the pandemic.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in China’s Wuhan city in December 2019, several entities, including former US President Donald Trump and India’s Union minister Nitin Gadkari have claimed that the virus emerged from a laboratory in China. However, most experts believe the virus originated in a market that traded in wildlife in Wuhan.