The US State Department is outlining its position on a World Health Organization team report that has concluded the coronavirus most likely jumped to humans from an animal.
The State Department spokesperson, Ned Price said Tuesday, “We look forward to seeing this report.”
“We want to see the underlying data. We intend to marry that underlying data with what is in our own broader holdings to include within our intelligence community. We are going to base our conclusions on nothing other than the data, nothing other than the science.”
A team of international and Chinese scientists looking for the origins of COVID-19 said an alternate theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab was unlikely.
A closely watched visit by World Health Organization experts to Wuhan – the Chinese city where the first coronavirus cases were discovered – did not dramatically change the current understanding of the early days of the pandemic, said Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the WHO mission.
But it did “add details to that story,” he said at a news conference as the group wrapped up a four-week visit to the city.
And it allowed the joint Chinese-WHO team to further explore the lab leak theory – which former U.S. President Donald Trump and officials from his administration had put forward without evidence – and decide it was unlikely.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is home to many different virus samples, leading to allegations that it may have been the source of the original outbreak, whether on purpose or accidentally.
China had already strongly rejected the possibility of a leak and has promoted other theories. The Chinese and foreign experts considered several ideas for how the disease first ended up in humans, leading to a pandemic that has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
Price said, “The WHO is leading this investigation.”
Adding, “I wouldn’t want to be conclusive yet about any sort of cooperation that the WHO may or may not have received from China.”
Price also stated the Biden administration’s position on the situation in Burma.
Police have cracked down on crowds of demonstrators protesting against Myanmar’s military takeover.
“We strongly condemn violence against demonstrators, he said.”
Adding, “We repeat our calls for the military to relinquish power, restore the democratically elected government, release those detained and lift all telecommunication restrictions and to refrain from violence.”
“We are making no bones about where we stand when it comes to the military’s need to relinquish power,” Price said.