torsdag 27. mai 2021

The Covid-19 origin story has massive political consequences

A growing storm over the origins in China of Covid-19 has explosive political implications for the United States at home and abroad, as well as the dueling legacies of two presidents that will be defined by the pandemic. President Joe Biden on Wednesday told Americans he had ordered US intelligence agencies to report in 90 days on whether the virus originated not in animals and spread to humans but might have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

The move deepened a mystery encompassing the pernicious spread of a deadly pathogen, an intricate epidemiological puzzle, the opacity of a totalitarian system and the bitter overtones of a superpower rivalry. It will fan doubts about the World Health Organization's capacity to tease out lessons from the current crisis in order to prevent future pandemics.

In the US, it leaves both the former Trump administration and the Biden White House facing calls for transparency about their efforts to establish how the virus started and whether politics tainted their investigative efforts. If it turns out the virus did escape from a laboratory, former President Donald Trump may be able to claim some vindication.