Biden Orders Deep Investigation Into COVID-19 Origins

President Joe Biden is ordering a deeper investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether the coronavirus pandemic was the product of a Chinese lab accident, the White House announced on Wednesday, amid growing questions about its origins.

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

Biden said he received an initial analysis earlier this month but is directing the intelligence community to dive deeper and report back to him in 90 days.

"As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has 'coalesced around two likely scenarios' but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question," Biden said.

The current two leading theories are that the virus it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident, he said.

CNN reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources, that the Biden administration had shut down an investigation led by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trying to prove the theory of a lab accident because of concerns over the quality of the investigation and its motivation.

Biden said Wednesday that he had tasked the intelligence community in March to prepare a report on the most up-to-date analysis of the origins of COVID-19.

He said he has received that initial report and asked for more information.

"I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days," he said. "As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China."

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to give more specifics to reporters during Wednesday's briefing and insisted that nothing had changed to prompted the new review after weeks of voicing support for an independent investigation by the World Health Organization.

"Once we get to that [90-day] conclusion, we'll have more to share," she said. "It's imperative that we get to the bottom of this."

More than 588,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19. Cases and deaths have been on a recent decline as vaccinations have ramped up, but the pandemic continues.

It's unclear whether China will fully cooperate with the White House's investigation. In a statement Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the U.S. government of "political manipulation" with its latest probe.

"Every time when the issue of pandemic is brought up, they smear and attack China, while totally ignoring the doubts over the origin-tracing work and failure of pandemic response in the U.S.," Zhao said during a press briefing.

Joe Biden comments on Wuhan lab
U.S. President Joe Biden answers questions from members of the press before departing from the White House on May 25. "The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months [of the pandemic]will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19," Biden said in a statement on May 26. Win McNamee/Getty Images