On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell report: According to U.S. intelligence, several members of the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been hospitalized with symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 in November.
The report reignited the theory that the virus that causes COVID-19 — SARS-CoV-2 — leaked out of the Chinese laboratory as opposed to originating in a wet market.
The World Health Organization had originally dubbed this theory “extremely unlikely” in a report earlier this spring, and even mentioning it on Facebook would lead to the offending post being taken down.
It came to light in the days that followed that President Joe Biden’s administration had shut down an investigation into the origins of the virus by then-President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this spring; CNN reported it was due to “concerns about the quality of its work.”
But never fear: On Wednesday, Biden announced he was ordering a 90-day review of the origins of the virus, assuring he’d tasked the intelligence community earlier this year with “a report on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of COVID-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.”
“Here is their current position: ‘while two elements in the IC leans toward the [human contact] scenario and one leans more toward the [lab leak scenario] – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” Biden said.
Thus: “I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days.”
Later in the day, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre demonstrated why there isn’t a single reason to have faith in this review.
For instance, Jean-Pierre was asked why China would be willing to work with us on this investigation, given its nature.
The answer: The WHO is going to continue to work with China.
“Look, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, I think, 1.3 million lives globally; 600,000 American lives, about. And it’s imperative that we get to the bottom of just where the pandemic originated — not just for the purposes of understanding this pandemic, but the pandemics to come, as I’ve already, kind of, alluded to,” she said, according to a White House transcript.
“And so this is something that we’re going to, you know, continue to have conversations on. This is a global effort. It’s not just United States alone as we’re working with the WHO. This is our process here with the 90-day — that I just mentioned — review. But we’re just going to continue to work with WHO, and — and WHO is going to continue to — to work with China on this.”
What would be their motivations for this?
“You know, this is — this is something that you have to ask the Chinese government, right?” Jean-Pierre said. “This is something that should be impor- — it should — should matter to them — but this is a question for them, as well.”
She was then asked if Biden had confronted Chinese President Xi Jinping about the origins of the disease.
“I’m not — I’m not going to go into details of private conversation that the president may have — may have had with President Xi,” the deputy press secretary said. “All I can say today is that we’re going to do this 90-day review, and this is what the president asked for, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Any penalties if they don’t cooperate?
“I’m not going to prejudge or, you know, make any preannouncements at this time,” Jean-Pierre said. “We’re going to go with the 90-day investigation and see where it takes us from there.”
She was pressed again later on whether or not there would be repercussions for China if they didn’t cooperate fully.
“Just to take a step back: Anything that kills 591,116 Americans, is that something — if another nation either was responsible or knew more than they were letting on — like you said, they weren’t letting the inspectors in and that hurt the overall investigation forever — what would the president do?” a reporter asked. “Would he do anything?”
“I mean, he’s doing something right now. He’s been — he asked his team, back in March — right? — to do — to do this — to look into this — look into the origins of COVID-19,” she responded.