Where does the coronavirus come from? The US president has doubts that it was transmitted from animals to humans. The secret services are now supposed to investigate the possibility of an accident. China reacts promptly with a statement.
US President Joe Biden has ordered new intelligence investigations and a new report on the origin of the corona pandemic. The intelligence services would have to step up their efforts to gather and analyze information about a possible laboratory accident in China and provide a report within 90 days, Biden said on Wednesday. The background to this is the question of whether a laboratory accident in the Chinese city of Wuhan may have led to the global pandemic with more than 3.4 million deaths.
The announcement apparently sparked outrage from the Chinese government. The Chinese embassy in the USA rejected the investigation order as politically motivated. “Lately some people in the world have been playing the old trick of the political hype about tracking the origins of Covid-19. Smear campaigns and blame are making a comeback, and the” laboratory leak “conspiracy theory is re-emerging,” a statement said Embassy. Some political forces are “fixated on political manipulation and accusations”. China called for “international cooperation based on facts and science to better cope with unexpected epidemics in the future.” The “political virus”, however, stands in the way of international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
A report in the “Wall Street Journal” had recently given new impetus to suspicions about an accident at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. The newspaper reported on Sunday, citing a US intelligence report, that in November 2019 three employees of the institute were so seriously ill that they had gone to a hospital. The first corona infections became known in Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Secret services disagree
Biden now said that he had already requested a report from the secret services in March asking whether the outbreak was due to an animal-to-human transmission of the virus or a laboratory accident. The report was presented to him in May. There is currently disagreement among the US secret services as to which scenario is more likely.
Biden has therefore ordered increased efforts to investigate the question and a new report within three months. This also includes possible “specific questions to China”.
At the same time, the US president called on the government in Beijing to be more transparent: “The US will continue to work with like-minded partners to put pressure on China to participate in a complete, transparent, fact-based international investigation and to have access to all relevant data and To provide evidence. “
WHO: laboratory accident “extremely unlikely”
Soon after the pandemic began, there was speculation that the virus could have escaped in an accident from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, which is researching coronaviruses. The Chinese government has vigorously denied this.
A team of international experts on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it in March as “extremely unlikely” that the virus accidentally escaped from a laboratory. Therefore, they would not have followed this lead any further. It is rather “likely to very likely” that the Sars-CoV-2 virus passed from a bat to humans via an intermediate host animal.
But doubts quickly arose about the report. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further testing of the hypothesis of a laboratory accident in Wuhan. Numerous states expressed concern that the experts had been denied access to data during their investigation in China.
At the WHO annual meeting in Geneva, which began on Monday, calls for further investigations were made. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the US on Wednesday of “spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation”.