White House: Finding COVID-19 Origin a Top Priority

'Not convinced' Covid-19 developed naturally, says Dr Fauci

"Phase 2 of the COVID origins study must be launched with terms of reference that are transparent, science-based, and give global experts the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak", USA health secretary Xavier Becerra said in a video message to the annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization.

The Chinese government says case closed.

Chinese scientists and officials have consistently rejected the lab leak hypothesis, saying SARS-CoV-2 could have been circulating in other regions before it hit Wuhan, and might have even entered China from another country via imported frozen food shipments or wildlife trading. Redfield said the "most likely etiology" of the pathogen was that it had "escaped" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was running experiments with bat coronaviruses.

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it would have been a "dereliction of duty" not to fund earlier coronavirus research in bats in China.

White House senior advisor for COVID-19 response, Andy Slavitt added, "we need a completely transparent process from China".

In their own report on the origins of COVID-19 issued last week, Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee asserted that there was "significant circumstantial evidence" suggesting COVID-19 "may have been a leak" from the Wuhan lab.

That is the takeaway here: There needs to be more investigation.

The coronavirus was first detected in the Wuhan region of China, with authorities there insisting it likely spread to humans from produce at an animal market.

Although a World Health Organization investigation concluded that it's extremely unlikely the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology since no proof of the virus' evidence was detected in any labs, some scientists believe the lab-leak theory is still feasible and should be investigated further.

Beijing has angrily rejected the reports, repeatedly suggesting the virus may have come from a USA laboratory instead.

Some scientists had criticized WHO's investigation method in a letter, saying: "A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest".

"Whatever the origin of the pandemic, that first month when China was spending all of its energy trying to cover things up rather than fix the problem, that was what allowed the stove fire to become a kitchen fire to become a house fire to become a world fire", Metzl said. The WHO acknowledged further study was needed.

"The technical teams will prepare a proposal for the next studies that will need to be carried out, and will present that to the Director-General for his consideration", he said, referring to World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Biden administration has re-joined the WHO after the Trump administration pulled the United States from the global health organization. Evidence supporting a lab leak won't surface unless there is a whistleblower or regime change in China.

According to Beijing, the first confirmed case of the virus was reported on December 8, 2019, but many virologists and epidemiologists estimate the SARS-CoV-2 virus began circulating in the country in November of that year. Tom Cotton, who has pushed the idea that the virus was created intentionally as a bioweapon. "Those claims are groundless", Yuan said.

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