EU will back US calls for fresh push to investigate origins of COVID-19 at summit next week, according to draft communique as allies agree to unite against China
- President Biden left for eight-day Europe trip on Wednesday, including meetings with E.U. leaders in Brussels
- Draft agreement revealed joint plan to push for fresh look at origins of COVID-19
- The U.S. is leading calls for China to be more transparent about the pandemic and its source
- Leading scientists have admitted recently that they cannot be sure it emerged naturally from an animal host
The European Union will join forces with the United States in demanding a new study into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a draft communique circulated among E.U. ambassadors.
The announcement will be a significant boost for President Joe Biden who announced last month he had asked the intelligence community to redouble its efforts to get to the truth.
‘We call for progress on a transparent, evidence-based and expert-led WHO-convened phase 2 study on the origins of COVID-19, that is free from interference,’ the draft said, according to Reuters.
Both sides will also agree to co-operate on China policy.
Biden told reporters he would be, ‘making clear to Putin and and to China that Europe and the United States are tight,’ during his eight-day trip to Europe
President Biden brushes a cicada from his neck as he and first lady Jill Biden leave for the United Kingdom from Joint Base Andrews. The eight-day swing to Britain and Europe is the president’s first foreign trip as he tries to reassert the United States on the world stage, but it will come as welcome relief a day after his key infrastructure package suffered a setback when negotiations with Republicans collapsed
Joe Biden’s G7 schedule includes a meeting with the Queen after summit
President Joe Biden’s first foreign trip as the US leader will feature a meeting with the Queen following the G7 summit. Here’s the full schedule:
Wednesday, June 9
Biden and his wife, Jill, leave Washington on Wednesday morning. Their first stop in the UK will be at Royal Air Force Mildenhall to greet U.S. Air Force personnel stationed there. Mildenhall is home to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the only permanent U.S. Air Force air refueling wing in the European theater.
Thursday, June 10
Biden will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall, site of the G7 summit, to reaffirm the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
Friday, June 11
Biden will attend the G7 summit for three days starting on Friday, to work on U.S. policy priorities such as the economy and allied unity.
Saturday, June 12
Biden will attend more G7 summit meetings in Cornwall and have bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders.
Sunday, June 13
Biden will finish his meetings at the G7 summit. Afterward, the Bidens will meet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. Then Biden will travel to Brussels for the night.
Monday, June 14
Biden will meet NATO leaders and have a private meeting with the president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan.
Tuesday, June 15
Biden will hold more NATO meetings and then fly to Geneva for the night.
Wednesday, June 16
Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday it was unclear whether the two leaders would hold a joint news conference after their talks.
Biden left for the United Kingdom and the first leg of an eight-day trip to Europe.
He told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that his mission was to demonstrate unity among western democracies.
‘Making clear to Putin and and to China that Europe and the United States are tight,’ is how he described it.
Officials have said the schedule – meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of a G7 Summit, before travelling to Brussels for a NATO summit and E.U. meetings – was carefully co-ordinated as a show of unity before sitting down with President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
‘The trip, at its core, will advance the fundamental thrust of Joe Biden’s foreign policy to rally the world’s democracies to tackle the great challenges of our time,’ said national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
In an opinion article for the Washington Post, Biden wrote: ‘Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century prove their capacity against modern-day threats and adversaries?
‘I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe, we have the chance to prove it.’
COVID-19 will be one of those threats or challenged under discussion. Johnson and Biden are both expected to make announcements on global vaccine provision.
Meanwhile, the question of its origins is exercising scientists and politicians in the U.S.
The two competing theories are that the virus jumped naturally from an animal host into humans, triggering the pandemic, or that it escaped from a virus laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Members of a WHO team that visited the region earlier this year said the lab leak hypothesis was unlikely but complained they were not given proper access to data.
This week Trump-era officials called for the Biden administration to halt certain types of research funding for China and investigate sanctions in order to force Beijing to co-operate with investigations.
The president and the first lady are expected to land at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to meet US troops on Wednesday night as they kick off an eight-day trip to Europe.
He will then meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, where the pair will affirm their special relationship, discuss global vaccine strategies and discuss reopening travel corridors.
The president will then prepare to meet with the rest of the G7 leaders on Saturday in St. Ives in the first major face-to-face summit between world leaders in two years. He is believed to be staying in the Tregenna Castle Resort.
On Sunday, he will travel from Cornwall to Windsor Castle where he and Jill will hold a reception with the Queen.
He will then head to Brussels that night ahead of meetings on Monday with NATO leaders and the European Union before his highly-anticipated summit with Vladimir Putin on June 16.
Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease earlier this year
Biden shouted at the press and told them to watch out for the bugs before he spoke to a huddle of reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland
Biden and first lady Jill Biden flew by Marine One to Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning. From there they travel on Air Force One to Royal Air Force Mildenhall in the United Kingdom
Did coronavirus originate in Chinese government laboratory?
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been collecting numerous coronaviruses from bats ever since the SARS outbreak in 2002. They have also published papers describing how these bat viruses have interacted with human cells.
US Embassy staff visited the lab in 2018 and ‘had grave safety concerns’ over the protocols which were being observed at the facility.
The lab is just a few miles from the Huanan wet market which is where the first cluster of infections erupted in Wuhan.
The market is just a few hundred yards from another lab called the Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (WHCDC). The WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in its labs, including some 605 bats.
Those who support the theory argue that Covid-19 could have leaked from either or both of these facilities and spread to the wet market. Most argue that this would have been a virus they were studying rather than one which was engineered.
Researchers work in a lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province in 2017
Last year a bombshell paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology recounted how bats once attacked a researcher at the WHCDC and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’
The report says: ‘Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).’
It describes how the only native bats are found around 600 miles away from the Wuhan seafood market and that the probability of bats flying from Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces was minimal.
In addition there is little to suggest the local populace eat the bats as evidenced by testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors.
Instead the authors point to research being carried out within 300 yards at the WHCDC.
One of the researchers at the WHCDC described quarantining himself for two weeks after a bat’s blood got on his skin, according to the report. That same man also quarantined himself after a bat urinated on him.
And he also mentions discovering a live tick from a bat – parasites known for their ability to pass infections through a host animal’s blood.
‘The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic,’ the report says.
‘It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.’