President Joe Biden’s administration has called for further investigation into the origins of COVID-19, but expects the World Health Organization (WHO) to lead the investigation, not U.S. scientists, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Psaki fielded several questions from reporters in Tuesday’s briefing regarding the origins of COVID-19 and the increasing possibility that it leaked from a coronavirus research lab in Wuhan, China. While China has long insisted the virus spread naturally to humans from animals, evidence increasingly implicates the Wuhan Lab.
“What role does the Biden administration think U.S. scientists or CDC scientists should play in that investigation?” a reporter asked of potential further investigations in China. (RELATED: House Republicans: ‘Significant Circumstantial Evidence’ COVID-19 Originated From Wuhan Lab Leak)
“The WHO would be the body that would be overseeing a transparent, independent phase 2 investigation. That’s something we have strongly supported,” Psaki said. “That would require China finally stepping up and allowing access needed to determine the origins.”
“Of course the United States would be supportive of that second stage of the investigation, but it would be led by an international body,” she continued.
“So the U.S. wouldn’t take a leading role essentially?” the reporter responded.
“The WHO, which we rejoined when the president took office, is the body that we have been pressing and is the appropriate body for moving this investigation forward,” Psaki finished.
The lab leak theory gained renewed vigor following the revelation that three workers in the Wuhan lab were sick enough to get hospitalized in November 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal. The reason for their hospitalization has not yet been confirmed to be COVID-19, however.
Republicans have long called for further investigation into coronavirus origins. Critics have also pointed out that the WHO is widely known to have parroted falsified data from China in the earliest days of the pandemic.
House Republicans issued a letter urging Biden to support an investigation last week, pointing to past examples of diseases leaking from Chinese labs.
BREAKING: GOP House Intel Committee members agree w/ Dr. Ralph Baric, believe more investigation into COVID-19 origin is needed. Cmte: there’s “significant circumstantial evidence” it leaked from Wuhan lab; next to 0 evidence of zoonotic transmission. Article coming soon.
— Jennifer Van Laar (@jenvanlaar) May 19, 2021
“International efforts to discover the true source of the virus, however, have been stymied by a lack of cooperation from the People’s Republic of China,” House Republicans said. “Nevertheless, significant circumstantial evidence raises serious concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak may have been a leak.”