Biden declassifies intelligence on COVID origins

World Tuesday 21/March/2023 06:32 AM
By: DW
Biden declassifies intelligence on COVID origins

US President Joe Biden ratified a bill on Monday which requires the release of intelligence materials regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The intelligence is believed to point the finger at a Chinese laboratory based in Wuhan, where the virus is said to have first spread in late 2019.

The White House said the bill, passed by congress in March, requires Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify information related to the origins of the pandemic. However, Biden vowed to be mindful of national security when deciding what to release.

What do we know about the classified information?

Biden said he shared Congress's interest in releasing what is known about the origins of virus.

"We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19's origins... including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology," Biden said in a statement.

Washington's investigation into the origins of the pandemic has come in parallel with a strain in relations with China. The president has been urged by both fellow Democrats, and Republicans, to push back harder against China.

The debates regarding the origin of the virus were refueled by a Wall Street Journal report last month. The article cited a "low confidence" assessment by the US Energy Department, saying the pandemic was potentially caused by a Chinese laboratory leak.

Beijing has vehemently rejected the theory linking the devastating pandemic's origins to a laboratory based in China.

Since its spread in late 2019, COVID has so far killed almost seven million people worldwide.