WUHAN (WPRI) — Almost 15 months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, its origins are still being debated.
The question of the origin of the virus was brought up again after a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, claims three researchers from a lab in Wuhan, China became sick enough in November 2019 they had to be hospitalized.
According to the report, the researchers’ “symptoms were consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness.”
Now the White House is calling for China to hand over data to WHO, and support an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 to try and determine if it began from the theory the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, rather than from animal to human transmission.
At a White House press briefing Monday, reporters asked why President Joe Biden wasn’t asking for more access to information.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. has repeatedly called for WHO to support an international investigation of the pandemic’s origins, which will take the coordination of partners around the world, including the Chinese government.
“What we can’t do, and what I would caution anyone doing, is leaping ahead of an actual international process. We don’t have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time,” Psaki told reporters Monday.
“I think the family members of the loved ones whose lives have been lost, deserve accurate information,” she added.
China has repeatedly denied the lab leak theory, which a WHO-led team concluded in February was “extremely unlikely” after a visit to the Wuhan lab.