President Biden instructed the U.S. intelligence community to take a closer look at the origins of COVID-19 on Wednesday, calling on investigators to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion and report back to him in 90 days.
Biden said he wants to move closer to a definitive conclusion on just how the virus started.
"As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China," read the President's statement. "I have also asked that this effort include work by our National Labs and other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community's efforts. And I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work."
"The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence," the statement continued.
The President's request comes the same day officials of the National Institutes of Health testified in a Senate hearing that they strongly believe COVID-19 originated naturally, but want to see a full investigation done.
"I think the most likely reason, mechanism, by which SARS COVI-2 arose was a natural process from an animal to a human," testified Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director.
He added, however, that, "we cannot exclude the possibility that this is a lab accident."
Recent reports indicated three Wuhan lab employees were hospitalized in November of 2019 with COVID-like symptoms.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci's quick dismissal of the lab-leak theory.
"I didn't dismiss anything. I just said that this is a high likelihood of natural occurrence," answered Fauci.
But lawmakers continued to press Fauci that if the virus originated naturally, where is the host?
"Have we found any animals carrying COVID-19 that could've been the source of the transmission to humans thus far?" asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
"Thus far not," answered Fauci. "If what you're referring to, Senator, is an intermediate host. We know clearly with SARS COV 1 that a bat virus went into a cave which then transmitted it into the human population with MEARS. It was a bat to a camel to a human. The intermediate host if there is one has not yet been found."
"At what point in time would it be fair to say it came from the lab if we don't find an intermediate host?" pressed Graham. "How much longer?"
"I don't think we can give a time element on that, Senator. For the simple reason we still have not yet confirmed what the host is from Ebola," answered Fauci. "We know that Ebola jumps from an animal reservoir to a human and it's been many years now since the original Ebola outbreak, so we haven't yet nailed that."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told CBN News doctors like Fauci might have a motive for downplaying the lab theory.
"I think that he's not being honest with the American public," claimed Paul. "NIH and Dr. Fauci have been funding Wuhan Research. They do it through an intermediary called EcoHealth, interesting when they investigated whether this virus came out of a lab or occurred naturally, they hired the head of EcoHealth to be in charge of the investigation."
While Fauci acknowledged the funding, he categorically denies that any U.S. money went towards super virus studies.
"You didn't give money to do gain-of-function research in Wuhan China?" asked Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).
"That is correct," answered Fauci.
Fauci also stood by the U.S. giving the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab a research grant.
"With SARS COVI-1 clearly the bats that have the coronaviruses are in China. As I've said a couple of times, it's not in Fairfax County, VA, or New York, it's in China," said Fauci.
Either way, on Tuesday, the Senate passed Paul's amendment banning any future U.S. funding of gain of function research in China to ensure it never happens again.