During a press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that the Biden administration is “hopeful” that the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch a second probe into the origins of COVID, after their first investigation was stymied by a lack of cooperation from Beijing.
“Now we’re hopeful that WHO can move into a more transparent independent phase two investigation,” Psaki said in response to questions she received from reporters about the theory that the COVID pandemic leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
Psaki’s comments came after the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that three researchers at the Wuhan lab were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms resembling those associated with COVID. The assessment seems to corroborate the State Department fact sheet, released in the final days of the Trump administration, which indicated that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology displayed “symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
The WHO team dismissed the lab-leak theory as “extremely unlikely” after their initial investigation concluded in March. But WHO director Tedros Ghebreyesus — and virologists around the world — pointed out that the investigation was insufficient since the team was denied access to the information that would be required to rule out the possibility of a lab leak.
Beijing has so far refused to turn over the raw data that would give researchers a better idea of where the first clusters of COVID emerged. Psaki said Monday that such data will be necessary for any full and transparent investigation into the virus’s origins.