On Monday, US President Joe Biden signed a bill, the “COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023,” requiring the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information related to the origins of COVID-19.
“This administration will continue to review all classified information related to the origins of COVID-19, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and will declassify and share as much of this information as possible,” the President said in a statement on Monday. “
“Today, I am pleased to sign Law S.619, the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023. I agree with Congress’ goal to publish as much information as possible about the origin of COVID-19. In 2021, I directed the intelligence community to use all tools available to investigate the origins of COVID-19. This work is ongoing,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
“We need a deep understanding of the origins of COVID-19 to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics. This administration will continue to review all classified information related to the origins of COVID-19, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of this information as possible consistent with my constitutional mandate to prevent disclosure of information that would compromise national security,” the President said, according to a White House release.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that the World Health Organisation accused Chinese officials of rejecting scientific research that could reveal the origin of the coronavirus.
The WHO also asked Chinese officials on Friday (local time) why the data had not been released three years ago and why it was no longer available after it was published online in January.
An international team of virus experts downloaded and analysed the data before it disappeared on the Internet. The team revealed that the data support the idea that the pandemic may have originated from illegally traded raccoon dogs that infected humans at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.
But once the experts offered to collaborate with their Chinese counterparts on the analysis, the team could not reach a final result because the genetic sequence had been erased from scientific databases, The New York Times reported.
“The data could and should have been shared three years ago,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He said the evidence that is now missing “needs to be shared with the international community immediately.”