President Joe Biden is asking the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” its investigation into the origins of COVID-19 as health experts are giving a fresh look at the theory that the virus escaped from a lab in China.
In a statement on Wednesday, Biden said there is not enough evidence to determine “whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.”
“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days,” Biden said.
He went on to say intelligence agencies “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”
“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,” he added.
Still, Biden said that the origins of the virus might never be known, “The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19.”
His comments come after Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked whether he believes the coronavirus developed naturally.
“No, actually,” Fauci responded. “I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.”
“Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he added.
The discussion of the origin of the virus received renewed attention after The Wall Street Journal reported, based on a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report, that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill and sought hospital care in November 2019.
In March 2021, the World Health Organization released a report that said the possibility the virus leaked from a lab was “extremely unlikely.