US President Joe Biden on Wednesday ask its intelligence community to collect information on COVID-19 origin, adding that it will continue to press for China to participate in a full investigation.
In a statement, he said that the “failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19.”
The US president revealed that he had called the CDC earlier when the reports first emerged about the virus “to get access to China to learn about the virus so we could fight it more effectively.”
“As of today, the US intelligence community has coalesced around two likely scenarios”, Biden said, “but has not reached a definite conclusion on the question.”
“Here is the current position – while two elements in the intelligence report leans towards the former scenario and the one leans more towards the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be likely than the other.”
“I have asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyse information that could bring us closer to a definite conclusion and to report back to be me in 90 days,” the US President said.
“As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required including specific questions on China,” the president added.
“I have also asked that his effort include work by our national labs and other agencies of our government to augment the intelligence community’s efforts,” he said.
Read the full statement by President Joe Biden on the investigation into the origins of COVID-19: pic.twitter.com/Lo4Y2g0IKQ— National Security Council (@WHNSC) May 26, 2021
The president said that he has also asked the intelligence community to keep Congress fully appraised of its work.
Earlier on Wednesday, after the US demanded a “transparent, science-based” probe into the origin of coronavirus, the Chinese foreign ministry said that “the United States continues to hype up the lab leak theory”.
“The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences issued a relevant statement on March 23 this year,” the Chinese foreign ministry asserted while adding that, “before December 30, 2019, coronavirus was not contracted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Until now, there has been zero infection of staff and post-graduate students at the institute.”
The lab leak theory gathered pace after a report claimed that US intelligence agencies had revealed that researchers at China’s virology laboratory had fallen ill in 2019 before Chinese authorities reported the case to the WHO.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the US was “spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation such as a laboratory leak”.