U.S. Intelligence agencies have been directed by President Joe Biden to increase their efforts to seek to determine the origins of COVID-19.
After an investigation that started in March at the President’s request, the agencies coalesced around two “likely scenarios” about how the pandemic began, according to a report the White House received in May: the virus either emerged from human contact with an infected animal, or from a laboratory accident.
In a statement announcing his request for additional follow-up and analysis, President Biden said the agencies had not reached a definitive conclusion on the question of COVID-19's origin. Their current position, he wrote, quoting from the report, was that “while two elements in the IC [intelligence community] leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”
On May 26, President Biden announced that he asked the Intelligence Community “to redouble their efforts” that could bring us closer to reaching a definitive conclusion and report back to him in 90 days. As part of that report, he asked “for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China.” The new effort will include work by U.S. National labs and other agencies to augment the work of the Intelligence Community.
“The United States,” President Biden added, “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.”
COVID-19 has taken the lives of millions of people around the world; more than 600,000 in the United States alone. As White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “It is imperative we get to the bottom of just where the pandemic originated -- not just for the purposes of understanding this pandemic, but the pandemics to come.”