NSC Spokesman John Kirby: ‘There Is Not a Consensus Right Now in the U.S. Government About Exactly How COVID Started’

(CNSNews.com) – National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said Monday that President Biden “tasked the national labs, which report up through the Department of Energy” to study the origins of COVID, and “that work is still ongoing.”

That being said, Kirby said there is not a consensus in the federal government or among the intelligence community about exactly how COVID started.

As CNSNews.com reported the DOE has joined several other federal agencies in believing that the lab leak in Wuhan was the likeliest origin of the pandemic.

“On the Department of Energy’s findings the lab leak most likely caused the pandemic, how should Americans understand China’s response here saying that this is politically motivated, it’s a lie. There’s no science to back it, swatting down this information?” Fox News White House Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich asked.

KIRBY: I can’t speak for the Chinese, and I wouldn’t endeavor to do that, but just let me back up a little bit. The president made trying to find the origins of COVID a priority right when he came into office, and he’s got a whole of government effort designed to do that. 

There is not a consensus right now in the U.S. government about exactly how COVID started. There is just not an intelligence community consensus, and I would add that one of the things that the president did was he’s the one that tasked the national labs, which report up through the Department of Energy, to study this as well, so it wasn’t just an effort that was confined to the intelligence community. 

That work is still ongoing, but the president believes it’s really important that we continue that work and that we find out, as best we can, how it started so that we can better prevent a future pandemic. I mean, it’s — that’s — the idea here is to get ahead of it so that, you know, should there be another one or should there even be the signs of another one, we can better get ahead of it.

HEINRICH: China, though, is pretty clearly accusing the Biden administration of smearing them and trying to say that this is baseless, people shouldn’t believe it, and it’s a politically motivated attack.

KIRBY: I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in the process, Jacqui. We — the intelligence community and the rest of the government is still looking at this. There’s not been a definitive conclusion, so it’s difficult for me to say, nor should I feel like I should have to defend press reporting about a possible preliminary indication here.

What the president wants is facts. He wants the whole government designed to go get those facts, and that’s what we’re doing, and we’re just not there yet, and when we’re there yet and if we have something that is — is ready to be briefed to the American people and the Congress, then we’re going to do that.

HEINRICH: How would the president respond to China, though, if it’s determined that they lied about all this and now we’re trying to paint the administration as — in such a negative light? How will he respond to Xi and —

KIRBY: Well, let’s not get ahead of where we are in the process right now. There is not a consensus on what caused COVID to start. The president wants to understand that so we can prevent better future pandemics. He’s made that a priority, and I just don’t — we don’t have an answer to speak to, and I certainly — so, given that we don’t have a consensus, it would be foolish for me to get out ahead of speculation on hypothetical situations to come. We just aren’t there yet.


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