During a White House briefing on Wednesday, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden asked the U.S. intelligence community to deliver a report in 90 days on how the coronavirus pandemic started.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Today the president asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion and to report back to him in 90 days. Back in early 2020, the president called for the CDC to get access to China to learn about the virus so we could fight it more effectively.
Getting to the bottom of the origin is– of this pandemic will help us understand how to prepare for the next pandemic and the next one. As we have done throughout our COVID response, we have been committed to a whole of government effort to ensure we’re doing everything to both understand and end this pandemic and to prevent future pandemics. This is why the president is asking the US intelligence community, in cooperation with other elements of our government, to redouble efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring the world closer to a definitive conclusion on the origin of the virus and deliver a report to him, again in 90 days.
It will be another whole of government effort, as I mentioned, including work by our national labs and other agencies. Importantly, we will continue pushing for a stronger multilateral investigation into the origins of the virus in China. And we will continue to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation with the needed access to get to the bottom of a virus that’s taken more than 3 million lives across the globe and critically, to share information and lessons that will help us all prevent future pandemics.
With that, Zeke, will you take us away?
– Hey, Karine. First, on that last bit about the calls for China to cooperate with international investigations, what are the consequences for China if it does not– if it continues its current [? posture, ?] which has not been to allow for a free and independent– independent investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, right now we’re just going to focus on the president’s announcement on the 90-day investigation, a more deeper investigation to really look at the core of– of how did we get here, right, with this pandemic and where– the origins clearly of COVID-19. And once we get to that– once we get to that conclusion, we’ll have more to share.
– So but in terms of cooperating with the WHO investigations, there’s nothing new from the White House in terms of encouraging China or penalties for China if it does not cooperate with the investigation going forward.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to prejudge or, you know, make any pre-announcements at this time. We’re going to go with the 90-day investigation and see where it takes us from there.
– On that 90-day investigation, is the White House committing to making the results of that investigation public?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: We’ll have more to share after the 90 days.
– And then finally, just on this, the president’s statement noted that at least one member of the intelligence committee was leaning in the direction of there being a– a potential for a [INAUDIBLE]. Which member of the intelligence committee was–
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have that information to share with you right now. I think the most important thing is that the president has made– has made a decision to make sure that– to get to the core, right, to really figure out where this– where did the origin come from, to do this additional 90-day review, after asking his team to look into it into March– in March. So he wants to take that next step.