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Covid-19 origin: Joe Biden gives US intelligence ninety days to report

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, on Wednesday, May 26, called on the American intelligence services to "redouble their efforts" to explain the origins of the Covid-19. 

Mr. Biden demanded a report within ninety days, as the theory of a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China has come back in force in recent weeks in the US debate. And calls for a more in-depth investigation are growing within the scientific community.

Joe Biden recalled that the work of American intelligence, which focuses on two hypotheses (original animal or leak from a laboratory) has so far not made it possible to reach "a definitive conclusion". 

"The United States will continue to work with its partners around the world to pressure China to participate in a full, transparent, and evidence-based international investigation," the president added, lamenting Beijing's attitude on this issue.

He also wants a list of "specific questions" that should be put to China. Assailed with questions during the daily White House press briefing, Karine Jean-Pierre, spokesman for the US executive, remained evasive, sticking to the reminder of the ninety-day deadline.

Chinese accusations

A few hours before the release of Joe Biden's press release, Beijing had accused Washington of disseminating "conspiracy" theories on the origins of the pandemic. 

China has always fiercely fought the theory that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the pandemic, could have escaped from one of its laboratories, in particular the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was singled out by the previous Trump administration.

This week, a Wall Street Journal article rekindled speculation in the United States. The daily claimed to have had access to unpublished information from American intelligence, reporting that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been affected, as early as November 2019, with "symptoms compatible both with those of Covid-19 and those of a seasonal infection ”, requiring hospital treatment. Beijing has denied the Wall Street Journal information, calling it "totally false".

After a four-week stay in Wuhan at the start of the year, a joint study by experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese experts in March judged a laboratory accident "extremely unlikely". But the boss of the WHO himself, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had called for a new investigation into the hypothesis of the laboratory leak.

The identification of the first cases of Covid-19 dates back to the end of 2019, in Wuhan, before the virus spread across the globe and killed nearly 3.5 million people.

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