Biden renews COVID-19 origin probe that's so far come up empty

It provides details of China's storage and destruction of positive Covid-19 samples from humans; a significant influenza outbreak that emerged in December 2019, at the same time as the virus; and the revelation that the first people known to have contracted the virus had contact with a total of 28 separate food and animal markets in December.

"The IC continues to examine all available evidence, consider different perspectives, and aggressively collect and analyze new information to identify the virus's origins", Schoch said, a day after President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence agencies to "redouble" their efforts in investigating the emergence of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days. However, Donald Trump had muddied the waters around the issue including by referring to the SARS-COV2 virus as the "Wuhan virus" or "Chinese virus" - contributing, some argued, to violence against Asians in the U.S.

Reviving the lab leak theory "is disrespectful to science. and also a disruption to the global fight against the pandemic", Mr Zhao said.

According to Biden, intelligence agencies are now split over the two possible sources for the virus that swept the planet over the past year, killing more than 3.4 million people - a figure experts say is undoubtedly an underestimate.

"There's nothing really new there to prove the hypothesis", he said.

Calls to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, especially the lab-leak theory, have grown.

The foreign ministry, while questioning the credibility of USA intelligence, said that the United States has turned "a blind eye to facts, science and questionable study of origins" while adding that it has "kept clamouring for additional investigation in China".

The claim that COVID-19 was man-made has circled nearly since the beginning of the pandemic, focusing on China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, in the city where the outbreak was first detected.

China on Thursday rejected new attempts to politicize the origins of COVID-19, repeating that experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) had already concluded that a "lab leak" was "extremely unlikely".

The motive and purposes of Washington's probe are clear, said Zhao, who viewed it as another attempt to disrupt and contain China.

"Out of a sense of responsibility towards the health of mankind, we support a comprehensive study of all early cases of COVID-19 found worldwide and a thorough investigation into some secretive bases and biological laboratories all over the world", said the spokesperson. "Let's start with a full investigation there and expand as necessary".

"Ideally you want China to be more cooperative and more transparent", Huang said.

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