White House press secretary Jen Psaki lost her patience with Fox News’ Peter Doocy at Monday’s press briefing as he pressed her on whether the Biden administration was doing enough to expose the origins of COVID-19, after Dr. Fauci questioned where the virus originated.
‘With 589,920 dead Americans at what point does President Biden say we don’t want to wait for the WHO effort, we don’t know what they’re doing, this needs to be an American-led effort to get to the bottom of what happened?’ Doocy asked.
‘I think you’re misunderstanding how this process actually works,’ she told the him, and said the Biden administration was relying on the World Health Organization to conduct an independent investigation – even though their report already dismissed the lab leak claims.
Doocy was asking about a Wall Street Journal story citing a U.S. intelligence report that said three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology had sought hospital care in November 2019, a month before China reported its first COVID-19 case.
His question also followed Dr. Fauci saying over the weekend that he ‘wasn’t convinced’ the virus had spread naturally outside a lab and called for an investigation.
Psaki responded by saying they are pushing the World Health Organization to complete a probe ‘free from politicization’, despite accusations the Biden administration hasn’t done enough to hold China to account.
The World Health Organization has also been slammed for not doing enough to address the outbreak of the virus and released a 120-page report in March that dismissed the lab leak theory as ‘extremely unlikely’. In the findings they also suggested that the transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki snapped at Fox News’ Peter Doocy, ‘I think you’re misunderstanding how this process actually works’ as he asked her about whether the U.S. is doing enough to investigate COVID-19’s origins
Fox News’ Peter Doocy ( front row, center) asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki questions about the U.S.’s role in investigating the origins of COVID-19 at Monday’s White House press briefing
Last week, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report saying there was ‘significant circumstantial evidence’ that COVID stemmed from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Trump Administration also pointed to evidence that the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab, but Beijing denied the reports and it was brushed off by the Democrats and the media.
Psaki said she could not confirm the Wall Street Journal’s report on the origins and that the White House would need more information.
‘We don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion about the origins’, she said Monday. ‘We need data. We need an independent investigation. And that’s exactly what we’ve been calling for.’
Pointing to the Journal’s reporting, Doocy asked, ‘So why isn’t President Biden pushing for more access, more information to get to the bottom of exactly what happened?’
‘We are and we have repeatedly called for the [World Health Organization] to support an expert-driven, evaluation of the pandemic’s origins that is free from interference or politicization,’ Psaki responded.
‘During that first phase of the investigation, there was not access to data, there was not information provided,’ Psaki continued. ‘Now we’re hopeful that WHO can move into a more transparent, independent phase two investigation.’
Doocy then asked Psaki if the U.S. should be the one leading the investigation instead.
Psaki answered the U.S. government would still need access to the ‘underlying data and information’ from the Chinese.
‘He talks all the time about how he’s known President Xi for a long time, so why can’t he just call and ask him that information?’ Doocy replied.
Psaki then snapped back that Doocy must not understand how the process worked.
‘An international investigation led by the World Health Organization is something that we’ve actually been pressing for for several months, in coordination with a range of partners from around the world,’ she answered.
‘We need that data, we need that information from the Chinese government,’ she reiterated.
‘What we can’t do, and what I would caution anyone doing, is leaping ahead of an actual international process. We don’t have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time,’ the press secretary added.
Doocy tried one more time.
‘So is there any amount of casualties from COVID in this country that would make you not want to wait for an international effort and just do it as …’ he said.
The end of his question got talked over by Psaki.
‘I think the family members of the loved ones whose lives have been lost deserve accurate information, data, not the jumping to a conclusion without having the information necessary to conclude what the origins are,’ she said.
Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the COVID-19 pandemic
‘What we do share everyone in this country is a desire to know how this started, where it started and prevent it from ever happening again,’ she added. ‘That’s something we all share.’
Following the release of the Wall Street Journal’s bombshell report on Sunday, the Biden administration said they continued to have ‘serious questions about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its origins within the Peoples Republic of China.’
A National Security Council spokesperson said the U.S. government was working with the WHO and other member states to support an expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic’s origins ‘that is free from interference or politicization.’
‘We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2, but we’ve been clear that sound and technically credible theories should be thoroughly evaluated by international experts,’ she said.
A previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report adds weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory
The United States, Norway, Canada, Britain and other countries in March expressed concerns about the WHO-led COVID-19 origins study, and called for further investigation and full access to all pertinent human, animal and other data about the early stages of the outbreak.
Dr Anthony Fauci revealed he is ‘not convinced’ the novel coronavirus developed naturally during a PolitiFact event on May 11 (pictured)
Washington is keen to ensure greater cooperation and transparency by China, according to a source familiar with the effort.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
On Sunday, China’s foreign ministry noted that a WHO-led team had concluded a lab leak was extremely unlikely after a visit in February to the virology institute. ‘The U.S. continues to hype the lab leak theory,’ the ministry said in response to a request for comment by the Journal. ‘Is it actually concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?’
The Trump administration had said it suspected the virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab, which Beijing denies.
A State Department fact sheet released near the end of the Trump administration had said ‘the U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.’ It did not say how many researchers.
China refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led team probing the origins of the pandemic, according to one of the team´s investigators, Reuters reported in February, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began.
Why does Facebook still ban users from saying Covid was man-made even as Dr Fauci casts doubt on virus origins? And Italian journalist is censored by YouTube for claiming it was created in Wuhan lab
A fresh spotlight has been thrown on how tech giants police Covid ‘misinformation’ after Dr Antony Fauci questioned whether the virus was man-made in China – a sentiment banned across swathes of social media.
Facebook policies outlining what kinds of ‘misinformation’ its users cannot post about, specifically picks out theories that the virus was ‘man-made’ or ‘manufactured’ – the very theory Fauci was discussing.
At the same time, an Italian journalist claimed last week to have been censored by YouTube over a book which questions whether the virus was engineered in a Wuhan lab, despite America’s top disease expert saying it warrants investigation.
These inconsistencies beg the question whether social media’s ‘misinformation’ witch-hunt has gone too far in trying to prevent the spread of dangerous lies, and actually stifles productive debate instead.
Italian journalist Fabrizio Gatti was banned from advertising his book questioning the origins of Covid and criticising China’s response on Google – even as top US disease expert Anthony Fauci says it warrants further investigation
For example, on vaccines: A large number of Facebook policies deal with clear misinformation – such as outlawing claims that jabs contain ‘the mark of the beast’, or turn you into a monkey.
But the site also says it bans ‘claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people (such as causing blood clots.)’
That is despite the fact that medical regulators in Europe and elsewhere have seen fit to put warnings on AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs saying they can cause blood clots – albeit in vanishingly rare cases.
Meanwhile YouTube also has clear-cut policies banning untruths, such as saying prayer will cure the virus or that Covid isn’t real.
But the site’s policies ban posts questioning the efficacy of masks or debating lockdown measures – even though government guidance on both has changed many times since the start of the pandemic, largely thanks to debate about their benefits.
Separate rules on advertising on YouTube outlaw adverts around ‘sensitive events’ such as Covid, banning anything that ‘potentially profits’ from the event ‘without a benefit to users’ – though what exactly qualifies as a ‘benefit’ is not explained.
It was those advertising rules that Italian journalist Fabrizio Gatti fell foul of when adverts for his book – The Infinite Error: The Secret Story Of A Pandemic That Should Have Been Avoided – were ‘blacklisted’ from Google last week.
Google said the video violates the rules because it ‘displays speculative intent or lacks reasonable sensitivity around a global health crisis.’
But Elisabetta Sgarbi, whose company is publishing Gatti’s book on Covid, told Italian news agency Ansa: ‘There is a big difference between ‘gratuitous offense’ and the right to criticize.
‘[The book] documents the responsibilities of the Chinese regime, the allied governments and the WHO in the delayed response to the Covid-19 pandemic… which should have avoided.