G7 calls for Covid-19 origin study as Biden considers 'lab leak' theory

13 June 2021, 21:44 | Updated: 13 June 2021, 21:54

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have discussed the 'lab leak' theory of Covid's origins
Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have discussed the 'lab leak' theory of Covid's origins. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

G7 leaders have called for more investigation into the origin of Covid after discussing the theory it leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

US President Joe Biden said he had "not reached a conclusion" because American intelligence was unsure yet if it came from a bat or "an experiment gone awry".

Boris Johnson told reporters the best advice he had received was that it arrived in humans from an animal, which experts have usually suggested as the most plausible explanation.

"At the moment, the advice that we have had is that it doesn't look as though this particular disease of zoonotic origin came from a lab," he said at the close of the Cornwall summit.

"Clearly anybody sensible would want to keep an open mind about that."

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A joint report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Chinese experts said it was "extremely unlikely" Covid escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

But the investigation was criticised, with claims the WHO scientists were given limited access on their trip to China.

President Biden has told US intelligence agencies to thoroughly investigate the pandemic's origins.

He said at the G7: "I have not reached a conclusion because our intelligence community is not certain yet whether or not this was a consequence of - from the marketplace - a bat interfacing with animals in the environment that caused this Covid -19, or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory."

The "lab leak" theory is gathering strength in the US, while China has accused America of "smear campaigns and blame shifting".

On Saturday, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the nearly 3.75 million deaths from Covid meant people deserved to know how it began, and he said "we need to proceed to the second phase to really know the origins".

The G7's final communique called for a "timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened phase 2 Covid-19 origins study".