Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit by the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Wuhan, Hubei province, China Feb. 3, 2021.


Canada backs U.S. President Joe Biden’s effort to identify the origin of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

“We support the call by the United States and others to better understand the origins of COVID-19, not just to ensure accountability, but also to make sure we fully understand how to better protect the world going forward from any such further pandemics,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Since it was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, COVID-19 has caused a global pandemic that the World Health Organization says has infected more than 169 million people and caused nearly 3.5 million deaths.

Story continues below advertisement

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden ordered U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory. The President gave the agencies a 90-day timeline, and on Thursday said he plans to release the results publicly.

The U.S. intelligence community on Thursday acknowledged its agencies had two theories on where COVID-19 originated, with two agencies saying they believe it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, and a third pointing to a possible laboratory accident as the source of the global pandemic.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially but [it] has coalesced around two likely scenarios,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said, adding that the majority believes there is not “sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.”

The ODNI statement did not identify which two of the 17 agencies constituting the U.S. intelligence community believe the virus originated with infected animals and which agency believes it originated with a laboratory accident.

Mr. Trudeau did not say whether Canada would take an active role in the U.S. investigation, and declined to say on Thursday whether Canada’s intelligence agencies favour one theory over another.

“I know there are a lot of theories out there, but we need to make sure we’re getting to a full and complete airing of the facts to actually understand what happened and how to make sure it never happens again,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“We’re going to wait for conclusions and reports. Obviously there are very sensitive questions. … There’s also been a lot of misinformation out there, and I’m going to make sure that we are allowing for a full airing of the facts and getting to the bottom of everything before making suppositions about what might’ve happened or who could be behind it.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Trudeau’s comments echo similar ones he made in May, 2020, when he said it was “too early to draw firm conclusions” on the origin of the virus. Scientists and politicians blame a lack of transparency from the Chinese government for the slow progress on answering that question.

The Wednesday announcement from the White House marked a significant change in posture for Mr. Biden. His administration has for months played down the theory that the virus originated from a lab. Now though, it has joined worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to head off Republican complaints the President has not been tough enough and to use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.

Still, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Biden administration officials continue to harbour strong doubts about the lab-leak theory. Rather, they view China’s refusal to co-operate in the investigation – particularly on something of such magnitude – as emblematic of other irresponsible actions on the world stage.

Last year, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation into how COVID-19 originated. China later hit Australia with trade sanctions.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington, without mentioning the Biden order, accused unnamed political forces of being fixated on a blame game while ignoring the urgent need to combat the pandemic.

“Smear campaign and blame shifting are making a comeback, and the conspiracy theory of ‘lab leak’ is resurfacing,” the embassy said in a statement posted on Wednesday on its website.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Biden directed U.S. national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government. He called on China to co-operate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.

With reports from the Associated Press and Reuters

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies