'Unexamined' evidence spurs Biden's call for report into origins of COVID-19

Computer analysis could help answer the question about where the coronavirus came from.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
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Biden COVID vaccine

President Biden receives his COVID-19 shot.

Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

US President Joe Biden has announced his intelligence team is investigating the possible origins of the coronavirus pandemic, "including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident." Biden said the US intelligence community has no definitive answer as of yet but has come up with two possible scenarios for how COVID-19 began.

"I have now asked 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 Wednesday.

Part of the investigation involves working with global allies "to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence."

And it seems there's potentially new evidence to work through.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported the US may have "unexamined evidence" requiring additional computer analysis, "according to senior administration officials." The unexamined evidence was not described. Biden has vowed to make the findings public.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology ended up in hospital in November 2019 after becoming sick with what now look to be COVID-19 symptoms. The report cited a US intelligence report but there is no definitive evidence the researchers were infected with the coronavirus.

Following Biden's announcement Wednesday, Facebook reportedly told Politico it will stop taking down posts claiming COVID was manufactured in a lab

"In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made," a Facebook spokesperson confirmed in an emailed statement. "We're continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge."