Biden orders further review of COVID origins

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he has asked the intelligence community to further investigate the origins of the coronavirus.

In a statement the president called on 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."

Biden said the U.S. intelligence community was divided on the origin of the virus, including whether it came from human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

JEAN-PIERRE: "It's imperative that we get to the bottom of just where the pandemic originated. Not just for the purposes of understanding this pandemic, but the pandemics to come."

REPORTER: "I understand why we want it to get done, but why do we think that China would cooperate?"

JEAN-PIERRE: "This is something that you'd have to ask the Chinese government. This is something that should be important, that should matter to them, but this is a question for them."

U.S. agencies have been aggressively investigating COVID-19's origins since the U.S. government first recognized the virus as a serious health risk in early 2020.

Government sources have told Reuters that U.S. intelligence agencies are examining reports that three researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology were seriously ill a month before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported.

The virus first appeared in Wuhan and then spread worldwide. However, the origin of the virus remains hotly contested among experts.

ANTHONY FAUCI: "Because we don't know 100% what the origin is, it's imperative that we look and we do an investigation."

On Tuesday, U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he and many experts felt it was more likely that COVID-19 was a "natural occurrence" but couldn't know the origin for sure, and called for further investigation.