Covid-19 origins still murky after Biden administration's 90-day investigation

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The Biden administration’s 90-day investigation into the origins of Covid-19 was inconclusive, according to an unclassified report released from the intelligence community on Friday.

The intelligence community is still split on whether the virus was spread to humans from an infected animal or from a laboratory accident. The report said that while most agencies “assess with low confidence” that Covid “was probably not genetically engineered,” there wasn’t enough evidence to reach a firm conclusion.

“The IC — and the global scientific community — lacks clinical samples or a complete understanding of epidemiological data from the earliest COVID-19 cases,” the report said. “If we obtain information on the earliest cases that identified a location of interest or occupational exposure, it may alter our evaluation of hypotheses.”

The report said the virus most likely emerged in November 2019, with the first known cluster arising in Wuhan, China that December. The intelligence community said they believe the virus was not developed as a biological weapon.

The report also emphasized the need for China’s cooperation in order to determine the origins of the virus.

“Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States,” the unclassified report said. “These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where the investigation could lead as well as its frustration the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China.”

Support for an investigation mounted this spring after the Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had symptoms consistent with Covid and were hospitalized in November 2019. The lab leak theory continued to gain steam over the summer, as evidence to prove any origin theory remained elusive.

After the intelligence community told President Joe Biden it was split on the virus' origins this spring, the president ordered a 90-day sprint to redouble efforts.

Biden, who was briefed on the findings earlier this week, said Friday that even though the report was again inconclusive, the efforts to determine the root cause of the pandemic “will not rest.”

Biden also condemned China’s data hoarding, and said the international community will continue to press the country for information and cooperation with the World Health Organization’s efforts to determine Covid’s origins.

“The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them. Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world. Pandemics do not respect international borders, and we all must better understand how COVID-19 came to be in order to prevent further pandemics,” Biden said.

“We must have a full and transparent accounting of this global tragedy. Nothing less is acceptable.”

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