As questions grow about whether the virus was the result of an accident in a Chinese laboratory or spread through other means, Biden said in a statement he wants the community, which has been divided over the issue, to “redouble” their investigative efforts.
As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” according to Biden’s statement.
While two elements of the community lean toward the likelihood that the virus emerged from human contact with an infected animal, one leans toward the possibility of a laboratory accident. Their assessments are made “with low or moderate confidence.” and the majority of members of the intelligence community “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”
“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.
It’s not clear how the administration will get cooperation from China, which has accused the United States of hyping “the lab leak theory.”
“We’re just going to continue to work with (the World Health Organization) and WHO is going to continue to work with China on this,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday cited a U.S. intelligence report saying that three researchers at a lab in Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated, fell sick in the fall of 2019.
A WHO team that spent two weeks in China early this year was only allowed limited access to laboratories studying similar viruses and to data about the earliest cases.
The team found the most evidence for the possibility that the virus passed through more than one animal before arriving in humans. Investigators said a lab leak, was an “extremely unlikely pathway.”
After the report was released in March, the United States joined a number of other countries in raising concern that the study “was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples.”