While WHO ignores the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the world's largest coronavirus lab, and the fact that the closest relative of this form of the virus originated 1,000 miles from Wuhan and was only brought to the urban center after 6 miners died, the rest of the world wants answers. If it turns out that the Wuhan lab was sloppy again - an employee had been convicted of selling experimental animals to the nearby wet market - China will continue to dismiss it as western propaganda but even Europeans will be forced to stand up to the dictatorship.
China says it is common for three people in the same lab to get so ill they need hospitalization a few weeks before the first case of COVID-19 was retroactively acknowledged but impartial scientists are not buying the seasonal flu explanation. A government does not arrest a whistleblower and imprison them for a month (who then dies under mysterious circumstances) when there is no evidence they're telling the truth.
This has placed the Biden administration in a delicate position. During the 2020 election, dismissing criticism of China as racist buffoonery was part of the campaign, but there are numerous instances in politics where campaign rhetoric gets dismissed in the light of reality - both Obama and Biden said they were closing Guantanamo Bay in 2008, for example, but it was forgotten after they took office. So when the Biden administration says today that WHO should investigate, it may not mean they don't recognize the facts, it may mean that they want WHO to take responsibility for repeating the Chinese party line; like that COVID-19 didn't exist and that if it it did exist, it could not be transmitted human to human.
So for now they are only clarifying that the initial intelligence report - released by the Trump administration - simply criticized China's lack of transparency, which leaves the door open if their own analysis finds more evidence that the Wuhan lab was the likely source.
Higher-ups in WHO are also able to plead the alternative. The same day that its panel, led by WHO program manager Peter Ben Embarek, was saying China said they had nothing to do with it and that "there should be no further research in this area" and even restated that it might have come from American frozen food, WHO senior officials were undermining him by noting that his panel hadn't actually seen any data.
They couldn't have. During the 9 months of stalling China did, all 16,000 bat coronavirus samples at the Wuhan lab were removed. China will never have to accept any blame just like in America no one can be convicted of a murder if the body and the murder weapon are gone.
Matt Ridley, DPhil, an early critic of WHO being apologists for China now (as opposed to the SARS coronavirus pandemic of 2003, when there was no waffling by WHO about its origins) puts the hypocrisy plainly: "Had a western city with a big virus laboratory been the site of origin of a pandemic that killed nearly three million people, it would never be allowed – by the WHO or anybody else – to get away with denying access to such vital resources."
The Biden administration is now surely listening to voices calling for accountability.
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