White House demands 'robust' int'l probe into COVID-19 origins

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White House demands 'robust' int'l probe into COVID-19 origins

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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WASHINGTON,United States(AFP) — The United States wants a "robust and clear" international probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, she said it was "imperative we get to the bottom" of how the virus appeared and spread worldwide.

Psaki highlighted "great concern" over "misinformation" from "some sources in China".

The coronavirus has killed more than two million people, infected tens of millions, and hammered the global economy since first being detected a year ago in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Earlier this month, a team of experts from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan to probe the virus' origins.

Beijing has argued that although Wuhan is where the first cluster of cases was detected, it is not necessarily where the virus originated.

Scientists agree that the disease has an animal origin and particular focus is on the Wuhan "wet market," which sells live animals.

Former US president Donald Trump gave some support to a conspiracy theory that the virus instead originated in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, something China rejects.

Psaki said the United States was devoting significant resources of its own to understanding what happened.

Washington will "draw on information collected and analysed by our intelligence community" and also work with allies to evaluate the "credibility" of any outside report.

In addition, the Biden administration intends to boost "our staffing on the ground in Beijing, which is something that fell back in the last administration".

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