President Joe Biden on Wednesday upped the pressure on intelligence agencies to gather more information on the origin of the coronavirus and pressed China to cooperate with an international investigation.
“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 wrote in a statement.
He said that the U.S. intelligence community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios” for the coronavirus origin but hasn’t reached a conclusion as to whether the virus emerged from human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident.
Biden reported that the intelligence community’s position on the origin question is that “while two elements in the IC 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.”
Biden added that the U.S. will press China to cooperate with an international investigation. The leader of the World Health Organization previously said that an international team of experts tasked with traveling to Wuhan, China, to study the origin of the coronavirus was not given access to all of the data they wanted during their trip.
“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,” Biden said in the statement.
The renewed attention to the lab theory comes after The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China were hospitalized shortly before the coronavirus outbreak was confirmed.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said on Monday it was “completely untrue” that three members of the lab had fallen ill.
Neither WHO nor U.S. intelligence has yet to determine the origin of the virus, but despite the shortage of any conclusive evidence, the theory that the virus escaped from a Chinese lab has been promoted on conservative websites and by some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump.