A World Health Organization expert investigating the origins of Covid-19 in China has lashed out at the US government for expressing uncertainty around its initial findings, accusing President Joe Biden of posturing against Beijing and raising doubt over the credibility of US intelligence agencies.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said repeatedly that the US would welcome the WHO’s findings in a conclusive report but would ultimately rely on its intelligence agencies and information from allies to reach its own conclusions.
We look forward, again, to seeing the report, to seeing the underlying data, to using what we may have within our own reach based on our own intelligence and analysis to corroborate what the WHO has found and to reach our own conclusions," Price said.
In response to the remarks, WHO expert Peter Daszak said in a Twitter post: "Well now this. Joe Biden has to look tough on China. Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects."
He added he was happy to help the White House in verifying information, “but don’t forget it’s 'TRUST' then 'VERIFY'!"
The back and forth signal a rocky start in the renewed relationship between Washington and the WHO just weeks after Biden retracted the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the international organization, which is leading the global response against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, China has seized on the WHO's findings, claiming coronavirus vindication.