On Thursday the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said it was ‘extremely unlikely’ the virus had come from a laboratory in Wuhan. Photograph: Jason Lee/AFP/Getty Images
Joe Biden’s decision to expand the US investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, with one intelligence agency leaning towards the theory that it escaped from a Wuhan laboratory, has opened a new divide in his administration’s already tense relationship with China.
Biden said on Thursday that he would publish the results of the 90-day inquiry, which has made a priority for the intelligence agencies. The move represents a dramatic turnaround from the administration’s policy until now of leaving the investigation to the World Health Organization.
The US on Thursday called on the WHO to carry out a second phase of its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, with independent experts given full access to original data and samples in China.