MUVI again the focus of new crown virus traceability U.S. Senate passes bill requiring declassification of intelligence

President Joe Biden on Wednesday (May 26) asked U.S. intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts to gather information and analyze questions about the origins of the New Coronavirus pandemic that still ravages the world, and to report their findings to the White House in 90 days.

The Congressional Senate passed a bill that night that would require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify any and all information regarding the Wuhan Institute of Virus Research’s potential connection to the origin of the new coronavirus within 90 days.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle said there is no clear conclusion on the origin of the virus, but they are unhappy that China “continues to obstruct the investigation of facts related to the origin of the virus. Some Republicans have said outright that they “don’t trust China” and “shouldn’t rule out any possibility” in the investigation.

Currently, the issue of the origin of the New Coronavirus pandemic is divided into two main possible scenarios: from human contact with infected animals and from a laboratory accident. The notion that the virus was leaked from a laboratory was once dismissed as a conspiracy theory by the mainstream U.S. scientific community and media, but there are now growing calls in the scientific and political communities for a serious investigation of this possibility.

In a statement released Wednesday, President Biden said that as of today, the U.S. intelligence community has “developed a consensus around two possible scenarios,” but has not reached a definitive conclusion on the issue. Biden said the U.S. intelligence community’s current position is that “while there are two sides of the intelligence community that lean toward the former (human-animal contact) and one side that leans toward the latter (laboratory accident) – each with a low or moderate level of confidence – most of them do not believe there is enough information to make a scenario that is more likely than the other assessment.”

In his statement, Biden said, “I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble its efforts to gather and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion and report back to me in 90 days.”

Congressman: Nothing ruled out, but not yet conclusive

On the evening of President Biden’s statement, the Senate passed a bill calling for the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information about the origins of the new coronavirus, including research done by the Wuhan Institute of Virus Research for the People’s Liberation Army and research on the new coronavirus conducted by the institute prior to the outbreak.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said during the floor debate, “The American people deserve to know the origins of the New Coronavirus. They deserve to know how this pandemic has severely damaged our country and the entire world, and they deserve to know how the pandemic began and what role China played.”

Republicans have long targeted their suspicions at the Wuhan, China, lab. Earlier this month, a number of Republican House members sent a letter to the secretary of state demanding the declassification of documents about the Wuhan Virus Institute.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, and the committee’s Republicans said in a report last Wednesday that there is “significant circumstantial evidence” that the 2019 coronavirus outbreak was caused by a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virus Research .

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the ranking Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told VOA that he has argued throughout that no one should be ruled out on the issue of virus traceability, including the possibility of a virus leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virus Research.

“I think people should assume (those claims) that there’s some strong evidence out there,” Rubio said, “and what I’ve been saying for months is there’s no reason to ignore those claims. What we know about it, the evidence that we have, whatever you want to call it, whether it happened because someone contracted the virus in a lab and then brought it out, or whether it just happened from the animal market, which is what the Chinese officials said in the beginning.”

A joint report issued by a World Health Organization team of experts in China and Chinese officials after a visit to the country said it was “highly unlikely” that the new coronavirus originated from a laboratory accident. However, WHO leader Tan Desai later said that all hypotheses about the origin of the virus would have to be further investigated.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal cited a U.S. intelligence report that said three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virus Research “became seriously ill” and were hospitalized in November 2019. This was a month before the outbreak of the new strain in China.

The Chinese government does not acknowledge that the new coronavirus must have originated in China, and says it has cooperated with the WHO mission. Chinese officials have also repeatedly hinted that the United States or Europe could be the source of the virus. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community has a “dark history” and that its findings would have “no credibility. He also urged the U.S. to “immediately conduct a joint traceability study with the WHO, as China has done,” and launch an investigation into the U.S.

In response to such claims by Chinese officials, Senator Rubio said he did not care what the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “They are liars. They have never been transparent about this. Everybody in the world knows that.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a Republican U.S. senator from Texas, told Voice of America that there is no doubt that the virus originated in China.

He said that as a member of the Intelligence Committee, there are some elements he cannot discuss publicly, but “we know that there is some research being done in the (Wuhan) lab on the coronavirus. The question is, was it leaked out because of an accident or from some other source? We know it (the virus) came from Wuhan, we know it came from China.”

Both Senators Cornyn and Rubio admitted that they have “not seen conclusive conclusions” at this point.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Va.), also a member of the Intelligence Committee, said he has not seen any conclusive findings. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), also a member of the Intelligence Committee, told VOA that he had not reviewed the report on the origin of the virus in detail.

“I haven’t read (the information), and there may have been some evidence but I haven’t understood it,” Casey said.

Sen. Todd Young, R-IN, a Republican U.S. senator from Indiana, said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that after reviewing the publicly available information, he strongly suspects that it is highly likely that the new coronavirus was exfiltrated from the Wuhan lab.

“As a former Marine Corps intelligence officer, I look at the direct evidence and I see circumstantial evidence. Now it just so happens that there is a virology lab there and it’s working on a variant of the New Coronavirus,” Todd Young said during the interview, “a virus that has devastated the world economy and killed millions of people. So it stands to reason that everyone should have access to data related to the new coronavirus strain, everyone should have access to the lab staff, and all of those elements should be available in an expedited manner.”

Bipartisan support for White House to launch retrospective investigation

From President Biden’s statement Wednesday about the retrospective virus investigation, it is clear that the White House is prepared to increase pressure on China to release information about the virus and related data.

The statement reads, “The United States will also continue to work with like-minded partners around the world to urge China to participate in a comprehensive, transparent and evidence-based international investigation and to provide all relevant data and evidence.”

In his statement, Biden also asked the U.S. National Laboratory and other government agencies to assist the intelligence community in the investigation and to keep Congress abreast of the progress of the work.

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, praised the Biden administration’s decision to announce further investigation into the origin of the New Crown virus, while he criticized Chinese authorities for their lack of transparency on the origin of New Crown and for hindering the international community’s efforts to seek the truth.

In the statement, Schiff said, “Beijing’s continued obstruction of a transparent, comprehensive investigation into the facts and data related to the origin of New Coronavirus only delays this important work that will help the world better prepare for the next potential pandemic before it arrives.”

“It is critical that we allow the intelligence community and other scientific and medical experts to objectively weigh and evaluate all available facts and avoid drawing any premature or politically motivated conclusions,” Schiff added in the statement.

In a written statement provided to VOA, the office of Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States must conduct an accurate and objective investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus outbreak in order to avoid the next pandemic.

“There is no question that the CCP has been covering up and vigorously suppressing attempts to warn the world of a pandemic, and the United States must ensure leadership on true accountability to prevent future pandemics and push the CCP to allow an external, impartial and thorough investigation into the origins of the 2019 coronavirus disease. ” McCaul said in the statement.

U.S. lawmakers: don’t trust China to cooperate fully

However, some Republicans also said the decision by the White House came too slowly. Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who pointed suspicion at the Wuhan virus lab as early as last year’s outbreak, tweeted about Biden’s decision Wednesday, saying, “Too little, too late.”

Rubio stressed to Voice of America that the issue of virus traceability should not be an intelligence issue, but a global health issue.

“China should be completely transparent about this. It’s also possible that the Chinese government itself doesn’t know exactly how it happened, but they’re afraid that the disclosure of this will embarrass them,” Rubio responded in an interview with Voice of America.

“The problem is that a lot of people around the world are suffering because of this, and the whole world is disrupted. The lab in Wuhan has done similar research not only on this one virus, but on a variety of other viruses as well. We have an opportunity to keep this from happening again, so I think their (China’s) transparency is what we really need.”

However, Koning said he has no expectations that China will cooperate with the investigation. “No, I don’t trust them,” Koning told the Voice of America directly.

Koning also said he remains skeptical that the World Health Organization can continue to play an impartial and objective role in the traceability of the new coronavirus.

“I think if we’re going to rely on the WHO, which we now know is doing exactly what China wants it to do, then I don’t have a lot of confidence that they’re going to be able to report accurately. So I think we need to continue to pressure China to provide information and hold China accountable,” Koning told the Voice of America.

Cornyn called on Chinese authorities to cooperate with the international investigation, saying it is in China’s national interest to do so. He said, “This (the outbreak) has had a big negative impact on their country as well, and they have been deeply affected by the virus. So I think it’s in their self-interest to cooperate with us to find the source and to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Back-to-back statements from Biden administration officials do not rule out the possibility of a lab leak

The new coronavirus pandemic that first broke out in Wuhan, China, in 2019 has claimed nearly 600,000 lives in the United States. Various parts of the United States are gradually rebuilding and returning to life before the outbreak after many months of near shutdown of economic activity.

At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Rubio questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, who testified about the possibility that the new coronavirus was a laboratory leak.

Fauci replied, “What I’ve said all along is that it’s highly likely that this happened naturally. I’m not denying anything, I’m just saying it’s highly likely that this came from an animal host that we don’t yet know about in nature, and I still stand by that.”

He continued, “But as I said earlier in response to other questions, because none of us know this 100%, because no one, including me, knows 100% what the source is, so that’s why we’re in favor of further investigation.”

Several U.S. intelligence and health community leaders have recently publicly acknowledged that the possibility that the new coronavirus originated from a laboratory leak does exist.

U.S. Intelligence Director Avril Haines testified at a Senate hearing on April 14 that “the intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how the new coronavirus outbreak originally spread, and essentially the accounts are comprised around two different theories each, including that it occurs naturally after human contact with infected animals , and laboratory accidents.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also responded directly to questions from lawmakers during another Senate hearing on May 19: a lab leak is “a possibility. However, she also mentioned that most coronaviruses generally originate in animals.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Harvey Becerra (Xavier Becerra) on Tuesday called on the WHO to conduct a second, more comprehensive and transparent investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus.

Punishment? Sanctions? White House: Investigate first

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Karine Jean-Pierre) declined to state at a press briefing Wednesday whether the Biden administration would seek to punish or sanction China if the findings on the origins of the new coronavirus were leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

“We’re not there yet, we have to complete the 90-day review first, and once we have the 90-day review we’ll be able to do another assessment,” she told reporters.