President Biden Orders US Intelligence Agencies to Investigate the Origins of Covid-19


PRESIDENT Joe Biden has asked intelligence agencies of the United States (US) to investigate how the Covid-19 pandemic started, several media outlets in the US report on Thursday.

President Biden

This directive contradicts claims made last year by former President Donald Trump who had stated that US intelligence agencies had shown him very strong evidence on the matter.

According to the reports, the intelligence agencies have told President Biden that they do not know, and as a result, he formally publicly directed them on May 26th 2021 to try harder and to report back in 90 days.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had in January and February this year sent experts to the city of Wuhan in China where Covid-19 was first identified. The experts had reported back at the end of their investigation stating that their hosts refused to share crucial data with them.

A senior Biden administration official said recently that he found those efforts to “undermine serious investigations” into the pandemic’s beginnings particularly troubling, and that they left “many more questions than answers”.

“At the crux of this distrust is the possibility that SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes covid-19, may have emerged accidentally from research on animal coronaviruses conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or another nearby lab,” reports The Economist. The report adds: “In early 2020 this idea, sometimes conflated with the idea that the virus had been developed as a biological weapon, was publicly dismissed by eminent scientists. In February 2020 a number of them used the pages of the Lancet, a medical journal, “to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that covid-19 does not have a natural origin”. Most in the media followed their line. By far the most plausible account of covid-19’s origins, they reported, was “zoonotic spillover”—that is, a virus jumping unaided from animals to humans, as is taken to have been the case for SARS, a disease caused by a different coronavirus, in 2002. Lab-leak theories were widely dismissed as conspiracy-mongering.”

There is as yet no evidence in the public domain that a laboratory leak actually took place; just evidence that the possibility is real. Mr Biden’s request suggests anything the secret world can currently add to that is pretty weak stuff. His statement says that, at present, two “elements” within the intelligence community lean towards the zoonotic explanation, one prefers the laboratory origin, and no one has high confidence in any of these assessments. Without help from China, a harder look will not necessarily change this. But it is still worth taking, even given the risk of a confrontational response which will make the enhanced transparency and co-operation talked about at the World Health Assembly unlikely to blossom any time soon.


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