US President Joe Biden has signed a bipartisan bill that directs the Federal Government to declassify intelligence about the origins of Covid-19.
“In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm National security,” he said in a statement.
“My administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” he stated.
The legislation, which passed both the House and Senate without dissent, cites potential links between the research that was done in the Wuhan lab and the outbreak of Covid-19, which the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Reports suggest US intelligence agencies are divided over whether a lab leak or a spillover from animals is the likely source of the deadly virus.
“Experts say the true origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.1 million in the US and millions more around the globe, may not be known for many years — if ever,” one such report maintained. The US Energy Department – one of the US agencies investigating the disaster – concluded with “low confidence” that the virus probably came from a lab, agreeing with the assessment of the FBI. But then, such an assessment also contradicted the conclusions of several other agencies.
In 2021, Joe Biden had “directed the intelligence community to use every tool at its disposal” to investigate the origins of the virus. Many say the bill poses certain political risks for Biden, who is negotiating a difficult relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Beijing has rejected the possibility that a leak during research at the Wuhan lab could have unleashed the global pandemic.
However, the US Congress wants to pursue the theory further, and the issue has become a rallying point in particular for Biden’s Republican opponents.
The Covid-19 outbreak was first detected in 2019 in the eastern Chinese city of Wuhan, leading to almost seven million deaths worldwide so far.