China's stonewalling pushed Biden to reveal latest intelligence probe of Covid origins

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s decision to announce an intensified 90-day review of the causes of the coronavirus pandemic came in part due to the Chinese government’s refusal to participate in an investigation by the World Health Organization, a source familiar with the decision told NBC News .

Biden released a statement Wednesday calling on intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts to investigate the origins of Covid-19 after new reports raised questions about whether it came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. spread.

The source said Biden’s question went back weeks after he received information on the matter he asked about in March, the source said. The information was contained in the President’s Daily Brief, the highly ranked briefing prepared for the President by the intelligence community.

Biden asked if he could release part of the report without compromising the sources and methods in order for the White House to share the information publicly, the source said.

Those efforts were under way when China announced on Tuesday that it would not participate in the “second phase” of the WHO investigation into the origins of Covid-19. A joint WHO-China A study in March found that the virus was likely transmitted from bats to humans and that theories that the virus spread through “a laboratory incident were viewed as the extremely unlikely route”.

China’s decision not to work together “increased interest in us being more transparent about the steps we have taken,” the source said. “We continue to believe that China has vital information about the origins of the pandemic that it does not share with the international community.”

Earlier this week The Wall Street Journal NBC News confirmed that a U.S. intelligence report identified three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology who requested hospital treatment after falling ill in November 2019. The lab’s lead researcher had previously denied that anyone at the facility had become ill during this period.

In his statement on Wednesday, Biden noted that U.S. intelligence agencies were unable to come to a “final conclusion” about where the virus was originating and said he asked National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in March to produce a report for the virus it was known to create it.

Biden said the results concluded that while two elements of the intelligence community are “leaning” towards the explanation that the virus came from contact with animals, while another is turning to the explanation of the laboratory.

“I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to gather and analyze information that could move us closer to a final conclusion and to report back to me in 90 days,” he said.

Chinese officials argued Thursday over Biden’s announcement, suggesting that the U.S. is being tricked into believing conspiracy theories.

“Some people in the US completely ignore facts and science,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Kristen Welker reported from Washington and Dareh Gregorian from New York.

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