Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has welcomed the White House’s call for a better investigation into the origins of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.
Having led the call for an investigation over a year ago, and drawing the ire of Beijing along the way, Payne said U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement was “a welcome one.”
“We have been consistent about the need to identify the origins to ensure that a pandemic doesn’t happen again and to ensure that we are all better prepared,” Payne told ABC Radio on May 27.
She acknowledged the existing report into how the pandemic became a global crisis, by the Independent Panel, but hopes a new investigation will be “timely,” “transparent,” and “evidence-based.”
This comes after U.S. President Joe Biden on May 26 announced that the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) had been given 90 days to collect and analyze information about the origins of COVID-19, including whether it originated as a lab accident or by human contact with animals—which an initial report he received earlier this month indicated were the “two likely scenarios.”
“I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work,” Biden said.
He also said the United States would “keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence.”
This comes after the two prominent U.S. medical authorities, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), led by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have indicated their consideration of the lab-leak theory.
Fauci told PolitiFact on May 11 that he is now “not convinced” that COVID-19 developed naturally, while Walensky said in testimony to the Senate on May 19 that it “certainly” was “one possibility” that the CCP virus could have originated in a laboratory.
The lab-leak theory was pursued by the former U.S. administration, with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the Congress’s Intelligence Committee, stating on May 19 that there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence to support the idea the virus may have emerged from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
“By contrast, little circumstantial evidence has emerged to support the PRC’s claim that COVID-19 was a natural occurrence, having jumped from some other species to humans,” Nunes said, using the acronym for China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China.
The pivot to push for a fresh investigation that includes a lab-leak theory comes after the Wall Street Journal released an article on May 23 that discussed an undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that alleges three researchers at the WIV sought hospital care with COVID-19-like symptoms in November 2019—just one month before the CCP claims “patient zero” presented for care.
The Chinese regime has denied there is any truth in the Journal’s report. Instead, CCP foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed the U.S. had released the CCP virus from Fort Detrick military base in Maryland, repeating a previous allegation that the novel coronavirus had come out of America.