Joe Biden orders release of intelligence on potential links between Covid and Wuhan lab
President Joe Biden wants to declassify as much intelligence as possible detailing the origins of Covid-19, more than three years after the start of the pandemic which has claimed the lives of nearly 7 million people worldwide.
A bipartisan bill, passed by both the House and Senate without dissent on Monday, directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify intelligence related to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
It cites “potential links” between the research that was done there and the outbreak of Covid, which the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The law allows for redactions to protect sensitive sources and methods.
US intelligence agencies are divided over whether a lab leak or a spillover from animals is the likely source of the deadly virus. Experts say the true origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.1 million in the U.S. and millions more around the globe, may not be known for many years — if ever.
Mr Biden, in a statement, said he was pleased to sign the legislation.
“My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to Covid-19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said.
China has denied a lab leak in Wuhan. It has referred to a WHO-China report in 2021 that pointed toward a natural origin for the pandemic, rather than a lab leak.
Some studies suggest the virus made the leap from animals to humans in Wuhan possibly at the city’s seafood and wildlife market.
The market is a 40-minute drive from a world-leading virus laboratory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which conducted research into coronaviruses.
It came after FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency “has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan”.