The Biden administration shut down a State Department probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, looking specifically at whether the novel coronavirus came from a Chinese lab, according to CNN.
The inquiry, which was launched by “allies of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” began last fall, but was ended in the spring after draft findings were presented to Biden officials.
Questions were raised about the legitimacy of the findings and the project was deemed to be an ineffective use of resources, explained a source familiar with the decision.
Sources involved in the Trump-era inquiry rejected criticisms over the quality of their work and told CNN their objective had been to examine scientific research and information from the US intelligence community which backed the lab leak theory and shone more light on how it could have emerged in the lab.
Though Biden officials shut down this particular inquiry, they remain skeptical of Beijing's role in limiting investigators from accessing information that may be pertinent to the origins of the virus. (CNN)
Renewed focus has been put on the lab theory after The Wall Street Journal reported three people who worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were sick enough to be hospitalized in November 2019, though it is not confirmed they had COVID-19. Previously, the WHO and China put forth theories that the virus naturally spread from animals to humans. But Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky have now acknowledged the coronavirus could have been developed in a lab. Additionally, the House GOP also released a report recently pointing to “significant circumstantial evidence” the coronavirus originated from the Chinese lab.
When pressed on the matter during Tuesday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she believes an international investigation should take place to probe the lab leak theory, not a U.S.-led one.
Q Thanks, Jen. To follow up on some of the questions about investigations on the origins of the coronavirus —
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
Q You’ve spoken a lot about the need for an independent investigation. What role does the Biden administration think U.S. scientists or CDC scientists should play in that investigation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the WHO would be the body that would be overseeing a transparent, indef- — independent, phase two investigation. That’s something we have strongly supported.
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.
Q So the U.S. wouldn’t take a lead role, essentially, in this investigation?
MS. PSAKI: Again, 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.