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White House believes China has not been fully cooperative with probe into COVID origins

WASHINGTON: The United States does not believe China has been fully cooperative with the probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus disease, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden said earlier on Wednesday that the US Intelligence Community (IC) has determined there was insufficient information to assess whether COVID-19 came from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory leak and ordered the IC to redouble efforts to investigate the matter and to report their findings to him in 90 days.

“China wasn’t transparent enough, we’ve been saying that for a very long time, that China needed to provide more access to the lab, cooperate more fully with the scientific investigators,” Jean-Pierre said during the White House press briefing.

The deputy White House spokesperson summarized, saying that China didn’t meet the “standard” for transparency during the investigation.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing intelligence data, that three lab employees in Wuhan, China, became sick in November 2019 with symptoms similar to COVID-19, which, according to the newspaper, should support the hypothesis that the virus could have originated in China.

The first COVID-19 case was reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, located in the central Chinese province of Hubei. Former US President Donald Trump blamed the outbreak on China and suspected it originated in a virology lab in Wuhan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sent several fact-finding missions to Wuhan and released a full report in March which concluded that the leak from the lab was “extremely unlikely.” WHO experts further concluded that the virus was transmitted to humans from animals that may have consumed bats.

The United States and 13 other countries issued a joint statement casting doubt on the accuracy of WHO report and called for a “transparent and independent” investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

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