Pandemic origins: U.S. to declassify documents on Covid-19 outbreak

The bill seeks information on links between the Wuhan lab and Covid-19.
Sejal Sharma
Wuhan laboratory for Covid test
Wuhan laboratory for Covid test

Future Publishing/Getty 

U.S. President Joe Biden has signed into law a bill that seeks to identify the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic that took the world by storm in late 2019. The bill, now law, also requires the Director of National Intelligence to declassify documents and information that could help avert a similar global crisis in the future.

The bill clearly states that all related documents showcasing potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the origin of the disease in 2019 should be made publicly available. The bill also demands proof of any activities performed by the WIV with or on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army.

In a statement released on the official website of the White House, the President said, “In 2021, I directed the Intelligence Community to use every tool at its disposal to investigate the origin of COVID-19, and that work is ongoing. We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics.”

Over 1.1 million deaths in the U.S alone

The bipartisan bill, called S. 619 - “COVID–19 Origin Act of 2023”, passed the House and the Senate without dissent. It claims that there is reason to believe that the coronavirus outbreak may have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as has been claimed by many other global investigative agencies. Any assertion that the coronavirus emerged from mainland China has been met with total pushback from the Xi Jinping government.

According to previous reports by the Associated Press, the Chinese government has heavily clamped down on research into the origins of the pandemic. It has instead promoted fringe theories that it could have come from outside the country.

Ties between the U.S. and China have been strained, especially over the latter’s Taiwan policy. And the recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy further jolted the already shaky geopolitical relations between the two global behemoths. The Department assessed, albeit with "low confidence" that the virus likely spread via a mishap at the Wuhan laboratory.

The President’s statement on March 20, 2023 said, “My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 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 disclosure of information that would harm national security.”

There have been over 760 million confirmed coronavirus cases ever since the start of the pandemic, and 6.8 million deaths have been recorded globally, according to WHO.

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