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HHS Secretary says there must be a “transparent” investigation into origins of the COVID-19 pandemic

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that there must be a “transparent” follow-up investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Becerra told an annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization in recorded remarks that officials must do more to understand the current pandemic and prepare for “future biological threats.” The new phase of the investigation into the pandemic’s beginnings “must be launched with terms of reference that are transparent, science-based, and give international experts the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak,” he said. His comments come after a U.S. intelligence report said three lab workers in Wuhan, China, fell ill in November 2019, before the first coronavirus cases were reported, adding to circumstantial evidence for a hypothesis that the virus could have escaped from a lab in the city.

When asked about their thinking on the origins of the virus at a White House briefing Tuesday, senior health officials did not rule out a non natural cause. “Many of us feel that it is more likely that this is a natural occurrence, as has happened with SARS-CoV-1, where it goes from an animal reservoir to a human,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “But we don’t know 100 percent the answer to that.”

He added that because it’s a question that continues to come up, it’s “imperative” that the World Health Organization launch another investigation. Andy Slavitt, a senior White House adviser for the Covid-19 response, agreed that it’s a “critical priority” for the U.S. to uncover the truth. “It is our position that we need to get to the bottom of this, and we need a completely transparent process from China; we need the WHO to assist in that matter,” he said. “We don’t feel like we have that now” [NBC].

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POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: TIMES OF INDIA

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