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Origins of Covid-19: Joe Biden accuses China of hiding “crucial information”

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Will the origins of Covid-19 ever be known? The United States, which currently deplores more than 630,000 victims due to the coronavirus pandemic, is particularly active on the subject. After the publication of the summary of a US intelligence investigation report that did not settle on the issue, Joe Biden clearly criticized China on Friday, August 27, for lacking transparency.

“Crucial information on the origins of the pandemic exists in China, and yet from the start, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and global public health actors from accessing it.”, wrote the US president in a statement.

Read also Origins of Covid-19: China criticizes Joe Biden’s request for investigation

This top secret report was handed over to Joe Biden this week, who had given ninety days to the American intelligence services to “Redouble efforts” to explain the origin of this coronavirus. The virus responsible for the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, has not been developed “As a biological weapon” and did ” probably “ not designed “Genetically”, concluded the latter in the report.

But American intelligence is still divided between the hypothesis of a first case caused by natural exposure to an infected animal, or having resulted from a laboratory accident.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Seven key questions on the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic

Divergent assumptions

Four intelligence agencies and the National Intelligence Council believe that the animal thesis is the most “Probable”, even if they don’t grant him that“A low degree of confidence”. They rely in particular, to justify their verdict, on “The many vectors for an animal exhibition” existing sources, as well as China’s ignorance of the existence of the virus before it emerged. “The United States intelligence community judges that Chinese officials had no prior knowledge of the virus before the start of the epidemic”, is it written in this summary.

However, another intelligence agency considers with “A moderate level of confidence” that the thesis of a laboratory leak is to be favored, ” probably “ via “Experiments, handling of animals or samples by the Wuhan Institute of Virology”. The experts of this agency give more ” weight “ to “Inherent risk” coronavirus research, which was indeed conducted in Wuhan. Their hypothesis would be that this work could have led to the accidental infection of an employee.

Read the analysis: How China is waging an information war to rewrite the origins of the pandemic

At last, “Analysts from three agencies” do not decide between one or the other of the hypotheses. The intelligence services consider themselves “Unable to provide a more definitive explanation” for the origin of Covid-19 without “New information” provided by China, they write.

“To this day, China continues to reject calls for transparency and withhold information, even as the toll of this pandemic continues to climb”, regretted Joe Biden in his press release. “Our efforts to understand the origin of this pandemic will not weaken”, he promised.

In response, the Chinese Embassy in the United States, based in Washington, in a statement accused the United States intelligence community of “Political manipulation” : ” The report (…) is based on a presumption of guilt on China’s part, and only to make China a scapegoat. “

A crucial issue to prevent a next pandemic

A team of international experts sent by the World Health Organization (WHO) visited Wuhan in January for a study “First phase” on the origin of the virus. But their report, written in collaboration with Chinese specialists, had been widely criticized.

The study estimated that the passage of the virus from the bat to humans via an animal was the most likely scenario. She judged “Extremely unlikely” that the virus comes from a laboratory. In mid-August, China rejected the WHO’s call for a new investigation on its territory.

Analysis: China, big winner of the WHO fact-finding mission on the origins of Covid-19

Determining how the virus, which has killed more than 4.47 million people worldwide, passed to humans is considered crucial in trying to prevent the next pandemic. The hypothesis of a laboratory leak had largely been ruled out at the start of the chain of contaminations by the scientific community. But the supposed intermediate animal remaining untraceable, this thesis had returned in force in the American public debate in the spring.

In mid-May, around fifteen experts had published a column in the prestigious journal Science, calling for serious consideration. Gradually, however, the scientific community seems to be backtracking. Last week, in the same journal, six scientists published an article with a telling title: “The animal origin of SARS-CoV-2”. And, in another scientific publication, Cell, twenty-one eminent researchers concluded: “There is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a laboratory. “

Also listen Covid-19: the hypothesis of a laboratory accident revived

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The World with AFP

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