President Biden on Monday signed legislation to declassify information related to the origins of COVID-19 after the measure passed unanimously in Congress.
The House had passed the bill earlier this month, but the White House had not committed to whether Biden would sign it.
“We need to get to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19 to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics,” Biden said in a statement. “My administration will continue to review all classified information relating to the origins of COVID-19, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of this information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would injure national security.”
The president noted that he ordered intelligence agencies in 2021 to investigate the origins of the virus.
The legislation, called the COVID-19 Origin Act, was originally sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). The bill directs the director of national intelligence to “declassify any information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin” of COVID-19.
This, according to the measure, includes “activities carried out by the Wuhan Institute of Virology with or on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army” and “coronavirus research or other related activities carried out at the Institute of Wuhan virology before the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The bill was passed by the House shortly after reports indicated that the Department of Energy had determined that a lab leak was the most likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, although the White House denied that there was a clear consensus.
“The intelligence community and the rest of the government are still looking into this,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing in late February.
Republicans in particular have long argued that COVID-19, which has killed more than a million Americans since the pandemic began two years ago, began spreading after leaking from a lab in Wuhan. , in China.
Some experts and government officials have been more cautious in their language, saying it’s unclear whether the virus originated in a lab or spread from animals to humans.
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