U.S. intelligence agencies have 90 days deadline to find answers to the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19, including the possibility of a lab accident in China, as per President Joe Biden’s order on Wednesday, according to CNBC.
Biden said that he had asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information, including specific questions for Chinam that could bring them closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to him in 90 days.
The new order was prompted partly by Washington’s frustration over the insufficient co-operation from China in the international investigation.
Two likely scenarios are considered by the agencies, but there’s still lack of confidence in the conclusions detailed in a report to Biden, who ordered investigation in March into the novel coronavirus and if it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.
The origin of the virus, whose pandemic spreading has killed more than 3 million people worldwide and battered the global economy because of lockdowns, remains contested even among experts.
It is said in the March report issued by World Health Organization’s team, and written jointly with Chinese scientists, that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans via another animal, noting that a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway.
The team spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February.
U.S. agencies have been investigating COVID-19’s origins since it was first recognized as a serious health risk in early 2020. A still-classified U.S. intelligence report alleges that three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill in November 2019 that they sought hospital care.
The House intelligence committee’s report issued earlier this month claimed there are significant circumstantial evidence raising serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak leaked from the institute, suggested the Wuhan lab was involved in biological weapons research. It also suggests that Beijing had attempted to cover up the virus’ origins.
Washington asked for second phase to WHO’s investigation on COVID-19’s origin. WHO emergency director Mike Ryan said on Thursday AEST in Geneva that the agency will provide an update on its proposed next steps in the weeks to come.