White House

Biden COVID Adviser Says Search for Virus Origins Is Not ‘the Real Issue’

President Biden delivers remarks on the economy in Cleveland, Ohio, May 27, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

During a television appearance on MSNBC Thursday, Biden administration COVID adviser Zeke Emanuel discounted the importance of investigating the root cause of the virus and its origin in China.

“The real issue is not how did this happen, the real issue is how do we protect ourselves from the next pandemic,” Emanuel commented.

He explained that China appears to be withholding information that may be relevant to the laboratory accident theory, which has gained renewed mainstream attention as a plausible hypothesis after it was discovered that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in the fall of 2019 with COVID-like symptoms.

“Look, I think everyone’s being honest. We don’t know. And one of the reasons we don’t know is China hasn’t been completely transparent with all the data including the blood samples from the people in the Wuhan Institute who got sick early in November,” Emanuel continued.

He insisted that the U.S. needs to implement an “early warning system” to alert the public when a virus is on the rise, regardless of whether it occurred naturally or leaked from a lab. “We still need to protect ourselves so we don’t have ten million people die unnecessarily,” he said.

Emanuel’s statement follows President Joe Biden’s announcement that he is jump-starting a U.S. intelligence agency probe into COVID’s origin, after discontinuing the Trump administration’s inquiry into the lab leak theory and China’s possible use of biological weapons. On Wednesday Biden said he asked the intelligence community to “redouble its efforts” to settle the debate and arrive at a “definitive conclusion” within 90 days.

The COVID adviser’s comments also come after Facebook decided to stop using fact-checkers to censor lab-leak content, marking the first social media company has acknowledged the lack of scientific consensus around COVID’s original source.

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