Speaking to reporters on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the question of the "lab-leak" hypothesis of the coronavirus.
"On the origins of COVID," Fox News' Peter Doocy asked, there's a new Wall Street Journal that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness in November of 2019. That's apparently something that's known to US intel officials, so why isn't President Biden pushing for more access, more information, to get to the bottom of exactly what happened?"
"We are," Psaki said.
"And we have repeatedly called for the WHO to support an expert driven evaluation of the pandemic's origins that is free from interference or politicization. Now, there were phase 1 results that came through, we were not—during that first phase of the investigation—there was not action to data, information provided. Now we're hopeful that WHO can move into a more transparent, independent, phase 2 investigation," Psaki said.
Doocy brought up the number of Americans who have died as a result of COVID-19 infection, 589, 902, asking "At what point does President Biden say 'we don't wait for the WHO, we don't know what they're doing, this needs to be an American-led effort to get to the bottom of what happened?'"
"Well, first of all," Psaki replied, "we need access to the underlying data and information, in order to have that investigation."
"But he talks all the time about how he's known President Xi for a long time, so why can't he just call him?" Doocy asked.
"I think you're misunderstanding how this process actually works," Psaki said. "An international investigation, led by the World Health Organization, is something that we've actively been pressing for for several months in coordination with a range of partners around the world.
"We need that data, we need that information from the Chinese government. What we can't do and what I would caution anyone from doing is leaping to conclusions ahead of an actual international process. We don't have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time."
"So is there any amount of casualties of COVID in this country that would make you want to not wait for this international effort," Doocy asked, "and just do it as US-led?"
"Well, I think I have to say," Psaki replied, "I think the family members of the loved ones whose lives have been lost and deserve accurate information [sic], data, not jumping to a conclusion without having the information necessary to conclude what the origins are. What we do share, everyone in this country, is a desire to know how this started, where this started, and prevent it from every happening again. That's something we all share."
The virus, which emerged from Wuhan, China, quickly spreading around the world, killing millions, and upending national economies, does not have an official origin story.
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