Biden orders report on Covid origins in 90 days

Ruben Hill
May 28, 2021

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) prepares to begin a second phase of studies into the origins of Covid-19, China has been under pressure to give investigators more access amid allegations that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a laboratory specialising in coronavirus research in the city of Wuhan.

Meanwhile, the former head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that circumstantial evidence of Covid-19 originating in a lab in China's Wuhan continues to grow as researchers are yet to prove that the virus jumped from an animal to humans, as per a report in The Hill newspaper.

China wholly rejects the theory the virus may have emerged from a virology lab in Wuhan and has instead accused the USA of peddling conspiracies and politicizing the pandemic to divert attention from the high death rates there. The White House criticized the report as incomplete and lacking crucial data, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it wasn't "extensive enough" and that the lab-leak theory needed more investigation. There are more than 200 biological laboratories in the United States spreading around the world. "The US Intelligence Community does not know exactly where, when, or how the Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially but has coalesced around two likely scenarios: either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, or it was a laboratory accident", Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Strategic Communications Amanda Schoch said. ABC News has not independently confirmed that intelligence report.

Anthony Fauci, one of the faces of the US pandemic response and an adviser to Biden, reiterated Wednesday that he believed it was unlikely that the virus came from a lab.

In his statement, Biden called on China to cooperate with investigations into the origins of the pandemic, but didn't echo calls from Republican lawmakers that Beijing should be held accountable if the virus escaped its lab.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that USA intelligence discovered three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalised in November 2019 with Covid-19 symptoms.

A World Health Organization report earlier this year said the most likely origin scenario was that the virus spread to humans from bats through an unspecified intermediary animal.

The motive and purposes of Washington's probe are clear, said Zhao, who viewed it as another attempt to disrupt and contain China.

He also urged the USA to open itself up to investigations into its own biological laboratories, including those located in the Naval Medical Research Centre's Biological Defence Research Directorate at Fort Detrick in Maryland. "Let's start with a full investigation there and expand as necessary".

"Similar research needs to be done if we are going to find the true wildlife origin" of covid-19, said Daszak, president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance.

"Ideally you want China to be more cooperative and more transparent", Huang said. "But now the issue has become so politicised, with the stakes of the investigation so high".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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