Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health with the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said China's lack of openness was a major factor behind the resurgence of the lab leak theory. With this, Mr. Biden adds significantly to the growing pressure on China to be more open about the origins of the SARS-COV2 virus, an outbreak of which was seen first in early 2020 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which houses the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Earlier Wednesday, President Joe Biden said he was giving the intelligence community 90 days to produce a report on whether the coronavirus emerged from an infected animal or from a leak at a lab in Wuhan, China. China has been vehemently denying that the coronavirus broke out in Wuhan and took exception to Trump's reference to it as "China virus" or "Wuhan virus". Each side had "low to moderate confidence", and the majority of the 17 organizations that make up the community believed there wasn't enough information to assess which scenario was more likely, Biden said.
According to Biden, agencies are now split over the two possible sources for the virus.
"There's nothing really new there to prove the hypothesis", he said.
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.
While claims that the virus was man-made are not necessarily the same as it coming from the lab, officials appear to be leaning toward investigating the origins further and are open to more scrutiny on the lab theory.
"Very clearly they are trying to internationalise their way out of the jam they are in", said Jamie Metzl, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, who has been campaigning for a new independent investigation.
Earlier this week, USA government sources said a still-classified US intelligence report circulated during former President Donald Trump's administration alleged that three researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill in November 2019 that they sought hospital care.
"The pandemic started in China", Metzl said.
"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. "In short, this (statement from the embassy) is an outrageous insult to every person who has died from this awful tragedy and their families".
"Similar research needs to be done if we are going to find the true wildlife origin" of covid-19, said Daszak, president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance.