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Biden tasks intelligence community to report on Covid origins in 90 days

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Biden tasks intelligence community to report on Covid origins in 90 days

US President Joe Biden speaks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 31, 2021. - President Biden will unveil in Pittsburgh a USD 2 trillion infrastructure plan aimed at modernizing the United States' crumbling transport network, creating millions of jobs and enabling the country to "out-compete" China. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) -- President Joe Biden said Wednesday he has directed the US intelligence community to redouble their efforts in investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days.

The announcement comes after a US intelligence report found several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized -- a new detail that fueled further debate about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China. I have also asked that this effort include work by our National Labs and other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community's efforts. And I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work," Biden said in a statement.

The President said: "The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19."

The World Health Organization conducted an investigation into the origins of the pandemic and concluded in a report that the risk of an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute, where coronavirus research was being conducted on bats, was "extremely low." The report said there was "no reporting of Covid-19 compatible respiratory illness during the weeks/months prior to December 2019, and no serological evidence of infection in workers through SARS-CoV-2-specific serology-screening."

But the WHO probe was criticized by the US, United Kingdom and other governments over its limited access to "complete, original data and samples." The organization was also accused of being overly deferential to China throughout the course of the study. The study was co-authored by 17 Chinese scientists, several of them from state-run institutions.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire

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