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: U.S. steps up calls for independent inquiry into COVID-19 origin

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The Biden administration on Tuesday reiterated its demand that an independent investigation probe deeper to determine the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic, after doubts were raised on a recent World Health Organization inquiry that concluded it was unlikely to have been triggered by an accident in China’s Wuhan laboratory.

  • A serious inquiry is “a critical priority” for the U.S., said White House senior adviser on COVID-19 Andy Slavitt during a briefing on Tuesday. “We need to get to the bottom of this and we need a transparent process from China,” he added.
  • According to a recent Wall Street Journal report,  U.S. intelligence services believe that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick and were hospitalized in November 2019, the moment when scientists believe the virus began circulating in the region before spreading globally.
  • A group of international scientists wrote two weeks ago in the journal Science that the laboratory leak theory “remains viable” and that “more investigation is still needed to determine [its] origin.” They noted that most of the data fueling the WHO report, which they said wasn’t “balanced,” had been provided by China.
  • China has opposed further investigation of what happened at the Wuhan lab, and a Chinese delegate told the WHO annual meeting on Tuesday that the country’s part in the virus origin study “has been completed.” Beijing instead pushed for an investigation into other possible causes of the virus outside China.

Read: WHO head slams ‘scandalous inequity’ in COVID vaccines with 10 countries accounting for 75% of doses administered

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