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Biden signs bill to declassify US intelligence on Covid-19 origins

US President Joe Biden signed a bill that requires Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify information related to the origins of Covid-19, the White House has 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,” Biden said in a statement on Monday.

Biden said he shared Congress’ goal of releasing as much information as possible about the origin of Covid-19. However, he said his administration would keep national security in mind when deciding what to release.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and House of Representatives before being sent to the White House.

READ MORE: Lab leak most likely origin of Covid-19: US Energy Department

Politicised debate

Washington has been conducting a highly politicised debate about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic almost since the first human cases were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, amid calls from both Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans to push back harder against a rising China.

The debate was refuelled last month, when the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Energy Department had assessed with low confidence that the pandemic likely arose from a Chinese laboratory leak, an assessment Beijing denies.

However, there has not been a definitive conclusion from the US Intelligence Community on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Study alleges China created coronavirus in lab, tried to cover tracks

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