Biden signs bill on COVID origins declassification

FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control...
FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which cause COVID-19.(Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP, File)
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:16 PM MST
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill Monday that directs the federal government to declassify as much intelligence as possible about the origins of COVID-19 more than three years after the start of the pandemic.

The legislation, which passed both the House and Senate without dissent, directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify intelligence related to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. It cites “potential links” between the research that was done there and the outbreak of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The law allows for redactions to protect sensitive sources and methods.

U.S. intelligence agencies are divided over whether a lab leak or a spillover from animals is the likely source of the deadly virus. Experts say the true origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.1 million in the U.S. and millions more around the globe, may not be known for many years — if ever.

Biden, in a statement, said he was pleased to sign the legislation.

“My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19′s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said. “In implementing this legislation, my Administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security.”