Psaki won’t say if evidence disproves COVID Wuhan lab leak theory
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not say Thursday whether the Biden administration has seen evidence that COVID-19 did not leak from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“I would caution you against disproving a negative there, which is never the responsible approach in our view when it comes to getting to the bottom of the root causes of a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States,” Psaki chided Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy after he put the question to her.
“I will say that our view continues to be that there needs to be an independent, transparent investigation and that needs to happen with the cooperation and data provided from the Chinese government,” Psaki continued. “We don’t have enough information at this point to make an assessment.”
Earlier Thursday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report claiming that there was “significant circumstantial evidence” that the virus originated from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the federal government “may have funded or collaborated” the research that led to it.
The report notes that China has a “history of research labs leaks resulting in infections” and the Wuhan lab had been conducting “dangerous research” on coronaviruses without following “necessary safety protocols” which risked an accidental outbreak.
The “lab leak” theory, initially promoted by Republican lawmakers like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), has gained traction in recent weeks following a perfunctory investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year.
The report stemming from that investigation, which was carried out with the approval of China’s Communist government, concluded that the coronavirus likely spread to humans via animals and that it is “extremely unlikely” to have escaped from a laboratory. The US and more than a dozen other nations criticized the investigation for its lack of independence and transparency.
When Doocy asked Psaki if President Biden had called on his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to open the lab to an independent investigation, Psaki responded: “I would say that we have made that call publicly, many times. We have conveyed that privately and we have certainly communicated that they were not transparent from the beginning. That’s not acceptable.
“There’s an opportunity now, in the next stage of this effort, for them to be transparent, to participate in an international investigation that can bring a conclusion to the origins and provide information that we – Republicans, Democrats, everyone in this country — would love to have access to,” she added.
Even US health officials who are skeptical of the lab leak theory, like National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins, have called on China to open up the Wuhan lab to an outside probe.
“The idea of some kind of lab accident has been out there and I would not say that the investigation that was done by [the] WHO earlier this year satisfied anybody as far as really looking into the details of that,” Collins told Fox News last week. “We don’t know the answer yet, and we need to know.”
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