WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden has signed into law a bill mandating the declassification of intelligence related to the origins of COVID-19, saying that he shares “Congress’s goal of releasing as much information as possible” on the issue.
“We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics,” Biden said in a statement. “My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
He added that, in implementing the legislation, the 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.”
This month, both the Senate and the House unanimously passed the bipartisan bill, dubbed “COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023,” before sending it to Biden’s desk. The bill directs the director of national intelligence to “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin” of COVID-19.
Efforts to find out the origin of COVID-19 have consistently met with resistance from China, where the communist regime has covered up cases, silenced whistleblowers trying to sound warnings on the virus’s danger from the onset of the pandemic, and repeatedly refused outside investigators to probe the virus origins.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been the center of contention as a suspected source where the virus may have leaked.
The debate came back to the surface again recently after reports that the Energy Department has assessed the lab leak theory as the “most likely” source of the pandemic, a conclusion that the FBI has also reached.
In May 2021, Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to probe into the issue, which resulted in an inconclusive assessment of the virus origins, but “that work is ongoing,” he said on March 20.
Another point of controversy is the significant amounts of U.S. federal funding that had been funneled to the Wuhan lab via New York nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance. Experts say that some of this funding aided “gain-of-function” research at the lab, referring to experiments that enhance the lethality or pathogenicity of a virus.
EcoHealth scientists also orchestrated a campaign in the early days of the pandemic to push the narrative that the virus originated from nature—part of an expansive effort by Western academics, U.S. officials, and the media to censor discussion on whether the virus leaked from a lab.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who spearheaded the Senate version of the bill, celebrated the news on Twitter.
“Today President Biden finally signed my bill to declassify what the government knows about Covid origins. Let the people see for themselves!” he wrote.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), a co-sponsor of the bill, also praised Biden for making “the right choice.”
“The American people deserve more than spin and ‘the narrative’—they deserve the facts, and now more are on the way,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), who sits on the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, noted that the law was important for ensuring accountability for those responsible for the pandemic.
“It’s always important to have transparency and accountability, particularly for something that has impacted not just our country, but the entire world,” he told The Epoch Times’s sister media outlet NTD at the GOP retreat in Florida.
“It’s becoming cliche, but we’ve got to make sure we do everything to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Steve Lance of NTD contributed to this report.