There is no definitive conclusion on the origin of COVID-19, the White House said on Monday.
“The intelligence community and the rest of the government are still looking at this. There’s not been a definitive conclusion, so it’s difficult for me to say, nor should I feel like I should have to defend press reporting about a possible preliminary indication here,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters at a daily White House news conference.
Kirby was responding to questions on the findings of the Department of Energy that a lab leak most likely caused the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first reported in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend.
“What the President wants is facts. He wants the whole government designed to go get those facts, and that’s what we’re doing. And we’re just not there yet. And when we’re there yet and if we have something that is ready to be briefed to the American people and the Congress, then we’re going to do that,” he said.
Kirby said that President Joe Biden made trying to find the origins of COVID a priority right when he came into the office. And he’s got a whole-of-government effort designed to do that, he said.
“There is not a consensus right now in the US government about exactly how COVID started. There is just not an intelligence community consensus,” he said.
“The President believes it’s really important that we continue that work and that we find out, as best we can, how it started so that we can better prevent a future pandemic. The idea here is to get ahead of it so that should there be another one or should there even be the signs of another one, we can better get ahead of it,” he said.
Responding to another question on China, Kirby said that one of the things that concerned the US about the spy balloon episode, aside from the fact that it was clearly designed to spy from a high altitude over potentially sensitive military sites, is that the lines of communication weren’t as open, particularly on the military side, as they need to be.
“So, the President maintains that his goal in the relationship is competition, not conflict. That has not changed, even in the wake of that spy balloon event. But one of the things that really — We need to move forward on opening up lines of communication, particularly on the military-to-military lane. And as you know, those were shut down by the Chinese after then-Speaker Pelosi went to Taiwan,” he said.
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