Biden asks intelligence community to ‘redouble’ efforts to determine COVID-19 origins
WASHINGTON (NBC News) — President Joe Biden said he has asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to get to the bottom of where the COVID-19 virus originated after new reports raised questions about whether it spread from a Wuhan laboratory.
Biden said that so far the intelligence community has been unable to reach a “definitive conclusion” on the origins of COVID-19 and are divided on whether it came from human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident, Biden said in a statement.
“As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question,” Biden said.
The president said that in March he asked national security advisor Jake Sullivan to prepare a report for him on what was known about the origins of the virus, NBC News reports. Biden said the report concluded that while two elements of the intelligence community “lean” towards the explanation that the virus came from animal contact, another leans towards the laboratory explanation.
Biden said each assessment has “low or moderate confidence” and that “the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” Biden said he has asked for further investigation.
His comments come after a U.S. intelligence report said three lab workers in Wuhan, China, fell ill in November 2019, before the first coronavirus cases were reported, adding to circumstantial evidence for a hypothesis that the virus could have escaped from a lab in the city.
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