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US Congress sends bill to Biden for de-classification of Covid origins

“You are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”

President Joe Biden.© Jeff J Mitchell

Níall FeiritearSunday World

The US House of Representatives has voted to declassify information on alleged links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the coronavirus.

The bill will now be sent to President Joe Biden who had ordered the intelligence community in 2021 to provide an updated analysis of how the pandemic emerged.

Avril Haines, US Director of National Intelligence, has also been ordered to de-classify all known information regarding the root cause of the humanitarian disaster.

“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” said Christopher Wray, FBI director, earlier this month.

Covid first emerged in Wuhan, China, in 2019, with many initially believing cross contamination came as a result of the consumption of bats or from the so-called ‘wet markets.’ Attention has now shifted to the virology institute.

In February 2021, the World Health Organisation sent a team to China to carry out investigations in the area. This group concluded a laboratory leak origin for COVID-19 was "extremely unlikely.”

However, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the report's conclusions were not definitive, and data had been withheld from investigators. The FBI would seem to agree.

“I will just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work, the work that we’re doing, the work that our U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing. And that’s unfortunate for everybody,” Mr Wray added.

The effort by Congress to declassify intelligence on the origins of Covid comes after the U.S Energy Department concluded with “low confidence” that the virus most likely escaped from the lab in Wuhan as the result of an accident.

When Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, testified before Congress she said it's been "extremely challenging" to investigate COVID origins.

Her organisation’s 2023 threat assessment states that "all agencies assess two hypotheses are plausible explanations for the origin of COVID-19: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident" and that China is hindering this investigation.

China’s lack of transparency is of concern also to U.S Ambassador Nicholas Burns who said: “If we’re going to do something to strengthen the World Health Organisation, then we’re going to have to push China to be more active in it and to, of course, be more honest about what happened three years ago in Wuhan.”

The possible answers may soon lie on Biden’s desk with the origins of COVID-19 bill being the first legislation to pass the divided U.S Congress this year.

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