The White House cautioned Americans on Monday from believing theories that coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab, urging them to wait for a full international investigation.
“What we can’t do, and what I would caution anyone doing, is leaping ahead of an actual international process,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “We don’t have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time.”
Psaki reacted to a report from the Wall Street Journal revealing a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms consistent with the flu or coronavirus.
When a reporter asked if the White House was aware of the intelligence report, Psaki declined to comment. She said that President Joe Biden’s administration wanted the World Health Organization to continue investigating the origin of the virus.
“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,” she said.
It is unclear why the White House trusts the World Health Organization after Psaki criticized the first phase of the investigation in March for lacking crucial data.
The WHO report released in March said the lab leak scenario was “extremely unlikely” and said the most likely origin was the transmission of the coronavirus from bats to humans.
Psaki said the Biden administration was “hopeful” that the WHO could conduct a “transparent independent phase two investigation.”
She was unwilling to say whether Biden supported an American-led investigation into the origin of the virus, noting that it was China’s responsibility to provide the data about the spread of the virus.
“We need access to the underlying data and information in order to have that investigation,” she said.