On Wednesday May 27th, aides received orders from US President Joe Biden to find the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19. Rival theories potentially including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China. Biden said US intelligence agencies are pursuing the possible lab accident theory.
Lacking strong confidence
Biden said, despite lacking strong evidence in their conclusions, intelligence agencies are considering two likely scenarios. They are hotly debating which scenario is more probable. They have also provided a report to Biden.
The President’s team was asked to conclude if the coronavirus “emerged from a laboratory accident or from human contact with an infected animal”. His request was via a written statement in March this year.
Biden made a rather unusual public disclosure on private and inconclusive Intelligence assessments. The disclosure has revealed a raging debate within the Biden administration on the virus’s origin. It is also leaning towards the probability that the virus emerged from a Chinese research laboratory, and not from nature.
Late on Thursday, the Chinese embassy in the US issued a statement. It said investigations into the origins of COVID-19 would only be hampered by politicizing the issue.
A comprehensive study of all early cases of COVID-19 found worldwide is supported by China. China also supports a thorough investigation into biological laboratories all over the world and some secret bases. This is based on what the embassy said was a spokesperson’s attribution on its website.
Over 3 million people were killed worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic. The global economy has taken a severe battering due to lockdowns and other measures to slow its spread. Experts are debating among themselves over the origin of the virus. In December 2019, the first known coronavirus cases emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Debate about the origin
A World Health Organization-led team spent 4 weeks in January and February, in and around the area surrounding Wuhan. The WHO team together with Chinese scientists issued a report in March. The report concluded bats transmitted the virus to humans via another animal. The report also considered “introduction through a laboratory incident” as extremely unlikely.
Insufficient cooperation from China
In recent weeks, frustration is mounting in Washington from seeing China’s insufficient cooperation in the international investigation.
Biden said “I have now asked the Intelligence Community 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.”
The US government first recognized the virus as a serious health risk in early 2020. Since then, US agencies have been actively pursuing COVID-19’s origins.
Classified US intelligence report
During former President Donald Trump’s administration, a still-classified US intelligence report was allegedly circulated. The report stated that three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill in November 2019 that they sought hospital care. This information was revealed by US government sources at the start of this week.
It remains unknown where the source of that early intelligence originated or how reliable US agencies rate it. A source said it is unclear if the afflicted researchers were hospitalized or what their symptoms were.
Intelligence committees of both the US Senate and House of Representatives are carrying out investigations. Details will cover how US agencies gathered initial information on the origin of COVID-19 and its spread. Information on response and action by the governments will also be gathered.
28th May 2021 23:00
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